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."
2 October 2014Newitt links up with Seismos
Tapestry enters Arc picture
Toocool has American dream
Berkshire on the comeback trail
Estidhkaar 'on target' for Dewhurst
Australia leads Champions acceptors
Martin outlines Jack ground hopes
Raiding party heads Opera runners
Force and Power top Abbaye list
Telescope sights set on Breeders'
1 October 2014Dettori vies for World rule in Arc
Dettori given Ruler role
Autumn aim for North
Shamkala sole Arc withdrawal
Cadeaux team mull Caulfield date
Limato set for Redcar speed test
Cape set for Concorde test
Power primed to storm Abbaye
Creepy excels on chasing bow
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Martin keen on Clonard
Cirrus heads Longchamp billing
Elite aim for Irving
Ribbons run hinges on Paris ground
Quick on course for Ces date
30 September 2014Power heads Abbaye market
No fitness worries for Lemaire
Beaux plans undecided
Foret-bound Byron enjoys workout
Perfect fencing start for Minstrel
Ted takes Roscommon honours
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Speed not an issue to River camp
Signal on course to Wow in Paris
Ivawood heads Millions field
Top fillies star in Chariot race
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29 September 2014Logic ruled out for the season
Ansgar in Foret frame
Kalann team consider Champions bid
Peslier and Mosse hunt Arc mounts
O'Brien trio set for Longchamp
High hopes for Elliott team
Berry takes the rails route
River cruises to Beresford glory
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Minstrel ready for chasing bow
Tiggy Abbaye run not set in stone
Angel camp ponder Darley raid
Pineau ripe for new season
Mubtaghaa suited by joy of six
Fiesolana fired up for Foret