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."
25 October 2014Steip shock as Ship sinks
Blaklion sounds War cry
Trophy proves a stroll in Park
Roan reward at last for Wishfull
Muir full of praise for Code
Hawk swoops for Aintree prize
Smaih shines for Hannon
McCoy delighted with World hero
PJA and BHA issue fraud warning
'Enigma' Seanie ready for Knockaire
Prendergast duo set Eyrefield poser
Tac takes aim at Royal-Oak double
Snoano stepping up for Trophy bid
Adelaide rules in Cox Plate
Sir Max clinches Mercury gold
Full marks for Bangor schooling
Milky Way on another planet
O'Brien targets another Trophy
Hurricane in hat for Morgiana
Buick happy as a Star is born
King ace back in the Old routine
McCoy makes Chepstow return
Botti seeking Astrelle celebration
24 October 2014Ballyalton out for the season
Hutchinson sits out weekend action
Balding sweet on Park chance
Walker hoping for Glorious victory
Times out to make Newbury headlines
Cheltenham honour leading figures
Moore keen on Adelaide chance
Stevens back for Breeders'
Johnson Houghton fined
Duke lords it at Carlisle
Southwell first for O'Brien
Fenton fined over steroids
Buywise on the money at Ludlow
Lockinge the big plan for Toormore
Stone ruled out of Old Roan
Wetherby likely for First run
Elm tops Trophy octet
23 October 2014Fenton guilty of drugs possession
Williams hoping for Max power
Harty biding his time with Lane
Clonmel aim for Baily
Jezki possible for Morgiana bow
Harrington expects Naylor to shine
Gosden a Fan of Newmarket scorer
Northern aces face off in Cumbria
Murphy plagued by shoulder injury
Dynaste charts direct Haydock route
O'Brien outlines Breeders' plans
Wetherby-bound Taquin to duck Power
High hopes for Adelaide run
Gilgamboa waits on ground
Dandino misses Cup date
22 October 2014December date for Balding memorial
Deputy outgunned at Fontwell
Whisky chasing Power spoils
Burke maps out Odeliz targets
Present sights set on Power prize
New category for all-weather champs
Moviesta has sales date
National aim for O'Neill star
Cheltenham on Ginge agenda
Lewis eyeing Dubai success
Henderson handed Ascot role
Panther given Breeders' go-ahead
Plain sailing for perfect Storm
Big Easy sets sail for Open fixture
Hall monitored for Giant Bolster
Stomachion in November frame
Hughes revels in 'sweet' success
BHA moves to address small fields
Connell turns to Heskin
Integral to race on next year