Paul Nicholls believes Master Tommytucker can make light of his inexperience over fences and take a step up in class in his stride in the Ladbrokes Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.
The lightly-raced eight-year-old will be pitched into Grade One company for the first time in his career, on just his third start over fences, as he bids to give the Ditcheat handler a fifth victory in the three-mile contest.
After falling on his chasing debut at Chepstow in October last year, Master Tommytucker looked a natural over fences when making his return to action a triumphant one at Kempton last month.
Nicholls said: “Master Tommytucker is the intended runner and he won there the other day, while Danny Whizzbang will only run if it is testing ground.
“It is a big jump, but he is not a young horse – he has won at Kempton and jumped well the other day.
“He won two hurdle races and he would have won over fences last year had he not fallen – he could have been unbeaten going into the race.
“He has got to get three miles, but he won over two-miles-five over hurdles. He looks a nice horse.”
The 11-times champion trainer will put the chasing career of Getaway Trump on hold for a tilt at Grade One glory in the Ladbrokes Christmas Hurdle on the same Boxing Day card.
He said: “He has been chasing twice and as time has gone by the ground has not been great for him. It won’t improve much in January and he doesn’t jump fences as well on soft ground.
“If he runs really well at Kempton we might just try to win some hurdle races. I’m not going to say he will win the Champion Hurdle, but there are races like the one at Wincanton (Kingwell) and a few other good races.”
Impressive Ascot winner Capeland is in line for the Ladbrokes Desert Orchid Chase at the course 24 hours later.
Nicholls said: “I’ve a few options for the Desert Orchid, but I would say the one to go there is Capeland.
“He is one of those horses that is just a year older that has massively improved.
“He was like Frodon was this time last year and he has almost mirrored him.”
Grand Sancy will drop down in class for the Grade Two Ladbrokes Wayward Lad Novices’ Chase, after finishing a respectable third on his chasing bow in the Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown earlier this month.
He said: “He did jump and run well at Sandown and we are looking at the Wayward Lad.
“There are so few novice chasers you can run in and you can’t get experience into them, so you end up doing things like that, but he didn’t know it was a Grade One.”