Posted: 24th Feb 2016
Saphir Du Rheu: will improve for better ground according to NichollsPICTURE: Getty Images
CHAMPION trainer Paul Nicholls believes Ryanair World Hurdle hopeful Saphir Du Rheu will be seen "in a completely different light" on the likely better ground at next month's Cheltenham Festival.
Saphir Du Rheu finished runner-up to Cole Harden in last season's World Hurdle but has been largely disappointing this season, failing to justify favouritism over fences in the Hennessy Gold Cup before finishing over 30 lengths behind Thistlecrack in the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot in December.
The ground at Newbury was officially described as soft, while it was good-to-soft at Ascot, and Nicholls feels that was not in the favour of a horse who proved so effective on good ground in the spring last year.
Speaking at his media morning, Nicholls said: "Saphir Du Rheu will be seen in a completely different light on better ground and is a big player. We haven't seen the best of him."
Nicholls will put the finishing touches to Saphir Du Rheu's festival preparation by sending the horse on a racecourse gallop next week.
Saphir Du Rheu is a 16-1 shot for the World Hurdle and is likely to be joined by stablemate Aux Ptits Soins who can be backed at the same price. The market is headed by Colin Tizzard's dual Grade 1-winner Thistlecrack at 11-10.
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