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Cyrname could be aimed at the Melling Chase at Grand National Festival

Champion trainer Paul Nicholls believes that Cyrname is back into top form ahead of his appearance in the Grade One Betfair Ascot Chase on Saturday afternoon, however whatever the outcome of the weekend outing, the gelding is unlikely to be running at the Cheltenham Festival next month.

Nicholls says that his preference is to aim Cyrname towards the Grade One Melling Chase at the Grand National Festival in a little over seven week’s time.

Cyrname beat Altior in the Christie 1965 Chase at Ascot three months ago, however the hard-fought battle left its mark on both runners. Nicholls believes that the dust-up was one of the reasons why Cyrname was beaten by stablemate Clan Des Obeaux in Kempton’s King George VI Chase on 26th December.

The trainer said: “Cyrname has come back and has bloomed in the last fortnight… I was thrilled with him on Saturday morning. He looks fantastic. On refection, the Ascot race was not an ideal prep for the King George. It was probably too close. In contrast, Clan Des Obeaux had a brilliant preparation.

“It made me laugh when people said Altior’s back (after he won the Game Spirit Chase). Altior has never been away. He just got beaten by a better horse at Ascot on the day.

“They probably both had hard races and, with hindsight, if we went to the King George again with Cyrname we would probably do something different.

“I think he ran OK at Kempton but the first and second fences comes quite quickly and he takes a bit of time to get rolling into his stride. He never got into a rhythm and Ascot suits him better.”

Nicholls will still keep Frodon (2019 Ryanair Chase winner) in the race on Saturday but only if Cyrname is absent. He added: “In an ideal world, Frodon will go straight to the Ryanair Chase. If Cyrname runs on Saturday, he is more likely to go to Aintree.

‘He is a relentless galloper over two mile five or six furlongs. Two miles is too quick for him so he does not want to run in the Champion Chase. The Ryanair is possible but if he runs at Ascot we might keep him fresh the grade one at Aintree which would be the perfect race for him. That’s what is in my mind.”