Megan Nicholls Racing Tips – Cheltenham & Doncaster

BetMGM ambassador Megan Nicholls offers her insight into the world of horse racing as she brings her first-rate knowledge exclusively to our blog every week.

In this entry the former jockey, who rode more than 110 winners before turning her hand to television punditry, casts her eye over Saturday’s meetings at Sandown and Aintree.

Eyecatcher of the Week – El Fabiolo

It's great to see El Fabiolo back on track, making a winning return at Cork last weekend. He jumped fairly well as a whole – we know he can make the odd error, and he did hit one or two, but ultimately it was a really good comeback performance.

He's a horse that I've always really liked and his engine is just huge.

It would be really exciting if we get to see both El Fabiolo and Jonbon in the Clarence House at Ascot. It remains to be seen if that does happen or not, but a clash before Cheltenham would be awesome.

I think it's really good to see both horses winning over the weekend and I’m keeping everything crossed that, if they don't race at Ascot together, they'll both get to Cheltenham in tip-top form for a showdown that everyone will be looking forward to.

I am still on team El Fabiolo – for whatever reason, I've taken a shine to him, so I will remain faithful and loyal.

Saturday Racing Tips

Cheltenham 1.15 – Handicap Chase

In Excelsis Deo ran well to finish third at Cheltenham last time and the form has since been boosted by the winner Triple Trade. Boosted form and course form are two real positives.

The favourite Calico also ran very well that day but he's a horse that doesn't find an awful lot for pressure. I imagine he will be the last off the bridle but I just feel Harry Fry's horse will find a little bit more up the hill, especially as the ground is potentially going to be quite tacky, having been wet earlier in the week and Friday and Saturday forecast to be fairly dry.

It should make the ground hard work, so that's why I'm picking In Excelsis Deo.

**Megan’s Tip: In Excelsis Deo WIN

Cheltenham 1.50 – December Gold Cup

Thunder Rock is a worthy favourite – impressive when winning on return at Carlisle last month, the form has been boosted by the second-placed finisher Mahler Mission running very well to finish second in the Gold Cup at Newbury last time out. That's obviously a massive form boost.

This has clearly been the aim for Thunder Rock – he has limited experience in big handicaps but the way he went through the race at Carlisle and the fact he has got enough racing experience means that doesn't concern me too much. He does deserve to be the favourite.

I cannot look away from Il Ridoto, who is always a good each-way angle. He's so consistent, loves Cheltenham and ran really well last time in behind Stage Star so I think he will run into a place again.

Megan’s Tip: Thunder Rock WIN; Il Ridoto EW

Doncaster 2.40 – Handicap Hurdle

Despite having top weight, I like the chances of Tommy's Oscar.

A very talented horse, he was chasing recently and switches back to hurdling here – I don't think that's a bad thing whatsoever.

It's a competitive race and a few horses are improving and could be well handicapped but he is a very consistent horse and, on his day, he should be better than this field.

The weight might catch him out but I think returning to hurdles might sweeten him up again and he's the one I'm going to fancy here.

Megan’s Tip: Tommy’s Oscar WIN

Cheltenham 3.35 – Mares' Handicap Hurdle

Coquelicot for Anthony Honeyball – I was at Kempton when she won last time. She was pretty dominant on the front end and got given a positive ride by Rex Dingle, who retains the ride here.

I just think she's so competitive, she goes on any ground, she seems to go on any track, she's been winning on the flat and over hurdles and there doesn't seem to be any stopping her improvement.

She's really reliable compared to a lot of the others in the field and she's a very decent price (13/2). She could outrun her odds and I wouldn't be surprised to see her shortening as the day of racing goes on.

Megan’s Tip: Coquelicot WIN Browse all our horse racing markets here

Odds correct at time of publication but subject to fluctuation

Take Time to Think | | 18+

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