Nicholls keen on Storm
A maximum field of 25 has been declared for the three-mile-five-furlong Sandown race, run on the final day of the National Hunt season.
With the withdrawal of Marlborough top-weight of 11st 10lb will now be carried by the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained Beau, who landed this contest 12 months ago after a bloodless display of fencing.
Robert Ogden needs to have the winner of the contest if he is to stand any chance of overhauling Norman Mason to become the season`s leading owner and his colours will be carried by Kingsmark and Ad Hoc.
Ad Hoc, trained by Nicholls, makes a quick reappearance after finishing second to Gingembre in last Saturday`s Scottish Grand National.
But Nicholls warned that further rain at the Surrey track may lead to his charge`s withdrawal.
'He`s fit and well, and he`s come out of the race fine. Ruby (Walsh) is going to ride,' the trainer said.
'Another one of mine, Montifault, came out and won yesterday after he`d had a hard race at Ayr -these are tough horses.
'But we will have to see what it does at Sandown overnight as he wouldn`t want it very soft.'
Nicholls also runs Double Thriller (Joe Tizzard) and Storm Damage (Robert Thornton) in the contest.
'Double Thriller is another who would ideally want good ground,' he continued.
'He`s a hard horse to place but he`s got in on a good weight here having been dropped a bit and I think he still has the ability if things go right.
'But don`t forget Storm Damage, who ran a great race at Sandown when he won the Agfa Diamond Chase and he loves the course.
'He won`t mind how soft it is and he`s got no weight.
'He was having his third run over the National fences in the John Hughes last time and I think he was looking after himself a bit but he`s in great nick.'
Leading fancy Regal Rose will miss the Sagitta 1000 Guineas at Newmarket a week on Sunday, Sir Michael Stoute said today.