LiveScore Racing News: Nicholls praying for Newcastle rain
Trainer Paul Nicholls is hopeful some wet weather hits Newcastle to aid Monmiral in Saturday's Fighting Fifth Hurdle.
Monmiral has won all five starts to date, having kicked off with a victory at Auteuil in March 2020 before chalking up wins in his next four outings — all of which came in Britain.
The four-year-old triumphed at Exeter and Doncaster towards the back end of last year before then succeeding at Haydock Park in February, beating second-placed Nassalam by seven and a half-lengths.
The best was yet to come from the black gelding, who lined up at Aintree on his last appearance in April in the Grade One Anniversary Hurdle and duly took the spoils in comfortable fashion.
Up next for Monmiral is Saturday's Fighting Fifth Hurdle. And it is a big challenge for Nicholls' charge, who will be stepping out of juvenile company for the first this weekend.
Although pleased with what he has seen, Nicholls knows it will be a different test and he is hoping the rain makes its way to Newcastle in time for the big race.
He said: "I'm glad to hear the weather forecast that there's plenty of rain about because we were concerned about running him on faster ground.
"If they get that forecasted rain and it's good to soft or slower, that would be perfect.
"He has just schooled, is in good order, and we're looking forward to the challenge. It's a step up in class for him but he couldn't have done any more than he's done."
As things stand, Nicholls is in line to get his wish as there is 10-20mm of rain expected at Gosforth Park between Friday night and Saturday morning — and he is bullish about the chance of a victory.
He added: "Only four four-year-olds have won the race but he doesn't know that. We're hopeful of a very good run but I'm not going to predict that we'll go and win. Let the horse do the talking."
Depending on what happens at Newcastle, Monmiral could be aimed at Kempton for the Christmas meeting, while a set up in trip could also be on the cards if things go to plan.
Nicholls said: "The race on Saturday will tell us where we are. It is very much a fact-finding mission, whether we go to the Christmas Hurdle after this or step up in trip.
"He is obviously a talented horse and is unbeaten. Last year he was quite lazy, laidback and slow with everything he did at home. He has sharpened up a bit this year."
Epatante is likely to be one of the biggest threats to Monmiral in Saturday's race, while the likes of Sceau Royal, Silver Streak and Not So Sleepy will also be hoping to have a major say on matters.