Rocky road to glory
Nicholls looks capable of enjoying another Kempton winner with Aintree-bound 10/1 shot
The Aintree Grand National weights were released this week and it was interesting to hear jockey Ruby Walsh giving the Paul Nicholls-trained Rocky Creek as his outsider of the field at 33/1 and the nine-year-old is set to have his Aintree prep run at Kempton tomorrow afternoon.
Walsh could have a good case for the horse who finished fifth in the Grand National last season but prior to that he looks a good bet at 10/1 for tomorrow's BetBright Chase at Kempton.
A long distance runner-up to Road To Riches at Down Royal earlier in the season in the Grade One JNWine.com Champion Chase, Rocky Creek has clearly been trained with the National in mind and although beaten a long way in Ireland, he certainly bumped into a rapid improver on that occasion.
His weight of 11st 11lbs for tomorrow's race is the only real concern as he has to give almost two stone to Tap Night, who sneaks in at the bottom of the weights for Lucinda Russell and is another each-way alternative.
However, Paul Nicholls' record speaks for itself. He can team up with Sam Twiston-Davies for another big Saturday winner tomorrow afternoon.
At Newcastle, there is a 4m 1f grueller as the Eider Chase is their feature with the track hosting their biggest chase of their year and Irish representation is good and strong.
Maurice Phelan returns with 10-year-old Portrait King who won this very race in 2012 and he is very prominent in the betting, but it is the Stuart Crawford-trained Glenquest that makes most appeal on this occasion.
A hurdle winner at Down Royal earlier in the month, Glenquest really is an out-and-out stayer and although he's going to be one of the oldest contesting tomorrow's Newcastle race, he still appears to be fresh enough to give a good account of himself in this sort of company and he's not to be ignored.
Trainer Gordon Elliott makes no secrets about his fondness for Roi Du Mee and the Grade One winner can follow up his Tramore win on New Year's Day by claiming the Bobbyjo Chase, a recognised Grand National trial at Fairyhouse, despite having to give weight away all around.