With plenty of rain forecast, Nassalam should get his preferred conditions on Sunday and with the race being stages on the ‘New Course’ which represents a slightly stiffer test of stamina than the ‘Old Course’ the venue for his last outing in the Paddy Power Gold Cup, he has a lot more in his favour than he did there. He’s very much at his best on soft ground, with his best hurdles runs coming in those conditions, including when 2nd in a Grade 1 behind Adagio. He’s also won two of his three chase starts under those conditions. He wears Cheekpieces here for the first time to just keep him focused on the job in hand and is expected perform better than he did last time with conditions to suit, which should see him put up a massive run.
Having jumped and travelled well, he was badly outpaced as the race got serious and lost a number of places just after jumping the open ditch, four fences from home. He looked to be struggling and wasn’t helped when hampered by a faller 3 out, pushing him even further back, as a result when turning for home he was in last place. To his credit he then stayed on really well to finish a highly respectable 6th, finishing as well as the principles on the run in from the final fence. He has to go left handed as shown when running no race at Ascot last time, as he continually jumped to his left. He’s also a much better horse on soft ground, so was understandably outpaced here on ground quicker than ideal. He’s still only a 5yo and can certainly be competitive in these top class handicaps when getting his preferred conditions.