Sam Winner is one of several recent short-priced favourites trained by Paul Nicholls to get turned over in the Juvenile Hurdle at ChepstowPICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Caid Du Berlais to break Nicholls' Finale duck
PAUL NICHOLLS has never won the Future Champions Finale Juvenile Hurdle at Chepstow but the champion trainer hopes to rectify the situation on Saturday with French import Caid Du Berlais.
Like the Welsh National, this Coral sponsored Grade 1 race has been salvaged from Chepstow's abandoned meeting on December 27 and moved to the rescheduled card this weekend.
Last season Nicholls didn't have a runner in the race, but two seasons ago he saddled the 8-13 favourite Sam Winner and 12-1 shot Dolatulo, who were fourth and fifth, while in 2009 even-money favourite Sang Bleu was second for the yard.
In 2008 Nicholls saddled the favourite, 5-2 shot Pepite De Soleil, but he found Walkon too good, while a year earlier Nicholls again filled the runners-up position, this time with Tatenen.
In 2005 it was no different, Nicholls was responsible for the second home in the form of 11-10 favourite Turko while he also had the fifth home that day in Twist Magic.
Paul Nicholls: conditions look idealPICTURE: Edward Whitaker
Nicholls said: "Caid Du Berlais has winning form on heavy ground in France and his last two starts when placed have been pretty good as he was second in a Listed hurdle at Auteuil last September.
"He has schooled well at home and I would be fairly hopeful he can go very well as he has experience on his side and conditions look ideal for him. He is also entered at Sandown but I am favouring running him at Chepstow."
Caid Du Berlais will face strong opposition in the contest over 2m½f in the shape of the Tim Vaughan-trained Swnymor, who impressed when scoring very comfortably on his hurdles debut at Newbury last month.
Formerly in the care of William Haggas, the four-year-old won on soft ground on the Flat and his new connections are more than hopeful he will handle the likely testing conditions at the Welsh course.
Vaughan said: "He has an entry at Sandown on Saturday as well but we are definitely favouring running him at Chepstow as we think he wants testing ground as it was very soft when he won nicely at Newbury.
"He did not have that many miles on the clock when we bought him and he was very professional at Newbury and, even though it is obviously a big step up from winning a novice to a Grade 1, I would like to think he is up to the task."