Modus sights firmly fixed on JLT at Cheltenham

Tue 13 Feb 2018

Paul Nicholls feels the JLT Novices' Chase at the Cheltenham Festival is the obvious target for Modus.

Although the eight-year-old also holds entries the Arkle Trophy and RSA Insurance Novices' Chase, the 10-times champion trainer is favouring a shot at the two-and-a-half-mile Grade One on March 15.

After losing his unbeaten record over fences with a fall at Exeter in December, the JP McManus-owned gelding bounced back to form with an impressive victory in a graduation chase at Kempton on Friday.

Nicholls said: "It is an obvious race for him the JLT. He was very good the other day at Kempton. He jumps well and he loves decent ground. That will be the main option for him.

"He is well capable and he is a 156-rated horse (over hurdles). He is a good horse and it would be a great race for him."

The Ditcheat handler plans to drop Mont Des Avaloirs down in class on his next start for a tilt at the Grade Two Dovecote Novices' Hurdle at Kempton a week on Saturday.

After winning at Aintree on his penultimate outing, the five-year-old finished a respectable third in last month's Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown.

Nicholls said: "Seeing the horse that was second (Kalashnikov) winning the Betfair Hurdle the other day was good form.

"You could argue if he had jumped the second-last quick at Sandown he'd have taken a bit of catching.

"He is a real smart young horse that is a bit immature and has just got to get his jumping together. He jumped really moderate that day and he came back with sore shins.

"He is going to run in the Dovecote. He is the sort of horse that doesn't want to be going to Cheltenham. He is one of my chasers for next year and I want to mind him."

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