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Hales: rain needed if Aux Ptits Soins is to make chasing debut

Big guns: Aux Ptits Soins (grey) and Zubayr stretch their legs behind Silviniaco Conti and Ptit Zig
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2.35 Exeter
GB Building Supplies Novices' Chase | Class 4 | 2m3f48y | RUK

Aux Ptits Soins's promising but heavily interrupted career could suffer a further delay entirely not of his making, with owner John Hales saying on Tuesday that if the overnight rain forecast for Exeter does not materialise the 2015 Coral Cup winner's chasing debut will be postponed.

The Paul Nicholls-trained six-year-old has been declared, along with four others, but will not run if the ground remains good to firm.

"He won't run if the rain doesn't come," said Hales. "It's forecast, there's meant to be plenty of rain tonight, so we're hoping everything will be okay."

For a horse Hales has had to show such patience with another week is hardly the end of the world.

This is one who made his first appearance in the owner's famous yellow with red star silks with that Cheltenham victory and has been sighted only once since, when a commendable fifth behind Thistlecrack in last season's World Hurdle, after a hellish preparation that involved several operations.

Aux Petits Soins holds an entry at Cheltenham on Friday in the Steel Plate and Sections Novices' Chase, but Hales added: "He wouldn't go to Cheltenham at the weekend; if he didn't run tomorrow he'd probably go to Haydock the week after."

Aux Ptits Soins (left) leads eventual runner-up Zabana on the way to victory in the Coral Cup
On Aux Ptits Soins's chasing prospects, he said: "He's always been a chasing type and he's a real class act. I saw him working yesterday at Ditcheat and he was very impressive. It's a question now of making a good debut, and Exeter's the ideal track to start a novice off, so we're keeping our fingers crossed."

Like Aux Ptits Soins, Hales revealed his other two exciting novice chasers – Politologue and Ibis Du Rheu – are also likely to skip Cheltenham engagements this weekend, with options at Haydock preferred.

One runner he does intend to have at the Open meeting is Unioniste after the Grand National tenth was pulled out of a possible engagement at Bangor on Wednesday.

Hales, who has exciting plans for the eight-year-old, said: "Unioniste was going to go to Bangor tomorrow but we're hoping now to run him at Cheltenham.

"His main target for the year is the Grand National, but he may also have an entry in the Welsh National this year. I've been fortunate enough to win the Grand National and Scottish National, so it'd be nice to try to win a Welsh National."

He's always been a chasing type and he's a real class act. I saw him working yesterday down at Ditcheat and he was very impressive
E.W. Terms