Recent Sandown winner Taquin Du Seuil faces a major test of his credentials at Newbury on Saturday with the highly-regarded Clondaw Kaempfer among the six-strong field for the Betfred Mobile Sports Challow Novices' Hurdle.
Taquin Du Seuil has done well since arriving at Jonjo O'Neill's stable from France, making a successful debut at Uttoxeter before chasing home the smart My Tent Or Yours at Ascot. Most recently, he cruised six lengths clear in Sandown's Grade Two Winter Novices' Hurdle.
Taquin Du Seuil runs in the colours of Martin Broughton and friends, and O'Neill said: "He's in good old form and won well the last day. It was soft enough at Sandown, so the ground should suit, but this looks a good contest."
Opposition does look stiff, as Clondaw Kaempfer is unbeaten under Rules both in Ireland and Britain, looking an impressive prospect for Donald McCain at Aintree and Haydock.
Paul Nicholls, who won the race a few years ago with no less a horse than Denman, sends Easter Day for the Grade One contest, who is also unbeaten in a pair of novice hurdles at Fontwell and Ascot.
Easter Day runs in the blue and orange colours of Barry Fulton, whose best known horse was the late multiple Grade One-winning two-mile chaser Twist Magic. Fulton is involved in a handful of horses with Nicholls, such as the useful Aerial, and owns Easter Day with another friend, Michael Broughton.
Fulton said: "At the moment, we're just pleased they are racing. He settles very well and has won in soft ground. After the way he won his last two races, when I spoke to Paul he felt it was worth a try in the Challow. It's a big jump up, but he should go well and we'll find out if he's good enough. Mind you, with so few runners, everyone is going to be confident!"
Barry Brennan steps Lucky Vic up from victory in a couple of minor events, while Anthony Honeyball's tough Ballybough Pat, second in a Grade Two and most recently a good Newbury handicap, takes his chance.
Brennan, who is based in Lambourn, has not trained many better than outsider Lucky Vic in his three years with a licence. The gelding is set to be reunited with Sam Twiston-Davies, who partnered him to victory on his most recent appearance at Ffos Las back in June.
Brennan said: "He's a three-miler and it's going to be very testing at Newbury. We know we're up against it, but he's only going to be a novice for one season and he's a lovely horse, so why not? We gave him a break after Ffos Las, he has had a few issues but he is in great form at home and Sam gets on well with him. Hopefully he'll start novice chasing next season."
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