Alan King is on a fact-finding mission with Balder Succes in the totepool.com Elite Hurdle at Wincanton.
The four-year-old won on his first three starts over hurdles in Britain last season, but failed to complete in the major juvenile events at the Cheltenham and Punchestown Festivals in the spring and so has questions to answer at this level.
"Balder Succes is arguably our most exciting runner this weekend," the Wiltshire handler told his website, www.alankingracing.co.uk.
"He runs in the Elite Hurdle, and, though he had a setback six weeks ago which left me thinking that he would not be ready in time, he has come to hand quicker than we could have hoped, and he schooled on Thursday, so off we go.
"He was unbeaten until those mishaps at Cheltenham and Punchestown, so we do not know how good he is."
David Arbuthnot's Topolski was largely disappointing last term, but the trainer is hopeful of better from his charge this season.
The trainer said: "He had a few problems last year, but he seems to be over those now and he seems happy and well in himself," said Arbuthnot.
"He's quite a difficult horse to gauge, fitness-wise. I ran him first time back after a break a couple of years ago thinking he'd need the run, and he went and won by seven lengths.
"My feeling is he will come on for the run, but he wouldn't be too far off right.
"It's a nice race to run him in as I didn't really want to start him off in a big-field handicap somewhere. I wanted to get him out in a nice, small field so he could build up his confidence. If he can run a nice race I'll be happy."
23 January 2017Paul Nicholls ponders Politologue plans
Catchamat lays down Newcastle marker for the Waltons
Top Gamble back in Clarence House Chase frame at Cheltenham
More Of That given Cheltenham cross-country chase option by Jonjo O'Neill
Harry Fry gives white-hot Unowhatimeanharry Cleeve Hurdle entry
Nicky Richards set to launch dual Doncaster raid in Sky Bet Chase
Kerry Lee considers Thistlecrack Cheltenham clash with Kylemore Lough
Ladbrokes replaces Hennessy as sponsor of Gold Cup at Newbury
Briery Queen on course for Cheltenham Festival date
Nicky Henderson rules out Clarence House option for Altior
Gordon Elliott hoping for Leopardstown rain ahead of Don Poli Gold run
Leicester call early check due to frost threat
Gallant Gray Wolf River set more realistic targets for next outing
Evan Williams thinking of Aintree for Evening Hush
Ice Cold Soul bags big handicap hurdle prize at Leopardstown
A Toi Phil the latest to benefit from magic touch of Jack Kennedy
Faugheen on course to return for Irish Champion Hurdle defence
Yorkhill still unbeaten over fences after Leopardstown win
All options open for Harry Fry's Haydock hero Neon Wolf
Smart Flat mare Toe The Line off the mark over hurdles
No rush for Jessica Harrington to map out Jezki target
22 January 2017King George VI Chase move would need BHA approval, says Nick Rust
Alary's Haydock disappointment mystifying Tizzard team
Airlie Beach on course for Cheltenham Festival assignment
David Pipe planning one more run with National-bound Vieux Lion Rouge
Warren Greatrex maps out Towton target for Missed Approach
Frozen track claims Fontwell card
Bristol De Mai's day as Alary falters in Peter Marsh at Haydock
Nigel Twiston-Davies salutes The New One after Haydock triumph
Un De Sceaux to run at Cheltenham for rearranged Clarence House Chase
Neon Wolf cuts loose at Haydock to claim Supreme trial
Waiting Patiently pounces at Haydock for Malcolm Jefferson
Deepsand a shore thing at Haydock for Alexander Thorne
Classy Jezki back in business at Navan
Yorkhill faces examination of chasing credentials at Leopardstown
Heartbreak City bids to transfer top Flat form to valuable jumps prize
21 January 2017Pinzolo too sharp for Lingfield rivals
Hereford forced to abandon Sunday card
Hereford inspection brought forward
Clarence House Chase switched to Cheltenham
Sunday check for Hereford card
Fontwell team call inspection ahead of Sunday meeting
Frozen Taunton loses Saturday fixture
Dual Group One winner The Grey Gatsby joins Dermot Weld
Ascot card called off following early-morning inspection
River flows deep for Tim Vaughan at Chepstow
Project Bluebook earns Cheltenham quotes with Musselburgh success
Colin Tizzard earmarks Cleeve Hurdle charge with West Approach
Injury setback for Andrew Thornton but 'this is 100 per cent not the end'
Peter Bowen ponders hurdling return for Henri Parry Morgan
Alan King puts 'progressive' Elgin on trial at Haydock
Dashing grey Politologue takes next step up the ladder at Haydock
The New One primed for Champion Hurdle Trial hat-trick bid
Colin Tizzard wary of Alary's weighty task in Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock
20 January 2017Tom Symonds keen to test Don Bersy before Haydock date
Jezki back on road to Cheltenham with Navan return
Un De Sceaux and Ar Mad set to renew rivalry but weather threatens Ascot
Ascot 'up against it' as Clarence House Chase card in jeopardy
Partly-frozen Ascot to stage inspection before Clarence House fixture
Chepstow given go-ahead after precautionary inspection
Classic quotes for Really Special after Meydan success
Alfie proves a money-spinner for Kerry Lee at Wincanton
No place quite like Ludlow for Land Of Vic
Willie Mullins happy with progress of Faugheen and Annie Power
Ryanair Chase on the horizon for Sizing John after Kinloch Brae success
Willie Mullins mob-handed in Mares' Hurdle at Cheltenham Festival
Ballyandy heading straight to Betfair Hurdle
Faugheen and Annie Power part of 47-strong entry for Stayers' Hurdle
Un De Sceaux and Ar Mad clash in Clarence House Chase at Ascot