Daryl Jacob is looking forward to getting the leg-up on Zarkandar at Wincanton as he aims to give lumps of weight and a beating to some talented rivals in the totepool.com Elite Hurdle.
The five-year-old gave Jacob his first taste of Cheltenham Festival glory when landing last year's Triumph Hurdle and while Ruby Walsh was in the saddle when he won last season's Betfair Hurdle at Newbury, Jacob was back on board to guide him to fifth place in the Champion Hurdle.
"It's a nice starting point for him and hopefully he'll run a nice race. He's in good form at home and his schooling has been good, so I'm very much looking forward to riding him again. He obviously has to give a lot of weight away, but he is the class horse in the race," said Jacob.
Champion trainer Paul Nicholls feels his charge may come on for the run, with next month's International Hurdle at Cheltenham his major early-season target.
"He had a good season and a bad season in some ways last season. I had trouble with him in the autumn and then he came out and won the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury. Then he was coughing and he ran OK in the Champion Hurdle, but he wasn't really right and fell the next day," Nicholls told At The Races.
"We've got to get his jumping back and he's a typical Flat horse as he thinks about that fall, but he's going OK. We might aim for the International at Cheltenham in December and obviously aim him at the Champion Hurdle.
"If we've lost pace and he's not jumping well enough we might have to think of stepping him up in trip, but he's one of those who never shows you a lot at home but he's good on the track. It might just take a run to get him sharp again, so Wincanton will be a stepping-stone to Cheltenham."
Nicholls also saddles Prospect Wells, the mount of Ruby Walsh, and the Ryan Mahon-ridden Escort'men.
Tom George is hoping a return to a flatter track can help Baby Mix show his true potential.
The trainer said: "He has won at Cheltenham, but perhaps that wasn't the strongest form and he got away with it on the wrong track, as he hasn't run well there since. I don't know whether he just hasn't been acting round Cheltenham or whether we need to look at different options. We'll know a bit more after the weekend."
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Bentelimar booked for Supreme rule
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Wincanton Thursday abandoned
Aintree beckons for Milan
Dundalk unlikely for Byron
Cops on patrol for Pertemps
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Codd angling for Festival glory
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Moon camp wary of Irish threat
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Magic McCoy on target with Fredo
Azorian back in winning groove
Berlais lands Auteuil prize
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1 March 2015Cecil runner second at Huntingdon
High hopes for Meade Festival team
Super set for National Duty
Longsdon retains Joe faith
Nolan hoping Noble makes cut
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Bin Suroor tribute for Cavalryman
Vautour excites Mullins in workout
Elliott posse work at Leopardstown
Geraghty confirmed for Master
Wayward back on right track
Investment gains Greatwood gold
Bal win delights connections
Glinger burns off Kelso rivals
Pipe proves he's a Soll man
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28 February 2015Festival plans fluid for Cyclone
Walter back for another victory
Irish pair do battle in France
Geraghty: Sprinter will be fitter
Wylie lines up Cheltenham team
Twiston-Davies Blak in business
Divine Bishop on Festival trail
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Night riding high for Grimthorpe
Glingerburn facing another battle
Pipe targets Aintree with veterans
Carlito primed for Kelso return
McCoy not planning Festival goodbye
Bridge camp praying for rain
Cook suspended from riding
27 February 2015Golantilla in Ballsbridge bid
Safety strikes in Zabeel Mile
Fehily confirms Zarkandar mount
Lieutenant bosses Purcell rivals
Dettori delights on Dubday
Many Clouds goes back to school
Maguire loses appeal
New One at ease for Faugheen clash
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