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Al Ferof Set For Ascot Romp: Nicholls


The 2012 Victor Chandler Chase is drawing closer by the day and top-notch jumps trainer Paul Nicholls has heaped praise on his talented youngster Al Ferof who will be tackling the famous fences at Ascot this weekend.


Many have been backing Finian's Rainbow to continue his rich vein of form over this course but his ability to conquer a hurdles contest at Ascot two years ago won't be enough to sway certain punters will be looking elsewhere, despite his quality start to the season at Kempton in the Grade 2 Desert Orchid Chase.

Notably, Finian's Rainbow was disposed of by Captain Chris at last year's Cheltenham Festival in the Arkle Challenge Trophy. Sent off at 7/2 on the day he was unable to get the job done but did finish ahead of some very highly-rated young jumpers.

Meanwhile, Al Ferof was a Cheltenham winner last year when capturing the Supreme Novices' Hurdle against the likes of Spirit Son and Cue Card. Nicholls switched over the talented son of Dom Alco to proper fences this season and he remains undefeated.

A Grade 1 winner at novice level over timber already, Al Ferof will be expected to kick on nicely for this one and deal with tried-tested-and-true chasers for the first time.

This 2 mile contest generally draws some of the best short distance chasers in the land and is considered to be a key prep for the 2012 Cheltenham Festival. At the moment, Finian's Rainbow is trading at 4/1 to capture the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival with Al Ferof priced out at a tempting 8/1.

It appears, however, that Al Ferof will be pointed towards the Arkle rather than the Champion with plenty still left to prove for this up and coming contender. Conditioner Paul Nicholls has taken the Champion Chase three times in the last three years and he'll be looking to continue that rich tradition with Al Ferof – especially if he is able to show enough acumen in this weekend's feature contest.