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."
11 March 2014Injured Maguire making progress
Present and correct for Snowden
Midnight express steams to NH glory
Six of the best for magical Quevega
Henderson hails Harrington win
Classy Conor loses life
Jet-propelled Jezki takes Champion
Holywell repeats Festival dose
Warhorse wins Arkle battle
Vautour storms to Supreme success
No track worries for Sire team
Mullins to field three in JLT
Ferof features in Ryanair dozen
Leading duo top World field
Last and First in Gold frame
Injured Maguire out of Festival
Judgement day beckons for Fly
Curtis wants Scholfield for Tea
Que takes aim at Festival landmark
Irving strives to rule Supreme
Champagne in sparkling form
Sire spearheads Queen Mother entry
Confidence behind Conor
Special One bids for Champion glory
10 March 2014Maguire airlifted to hospital
Clouds lined up for RSA
Gold hopes fading for Topper
Ruby ready to Rock
Suspensory problem sidelines Chris
Mullins 'very happy' with Fly
Cooper raring to go after fall
National glee for supersub Mullins
Francome fancies New One revenge
Quinn targets another Triumph
Buck's primed for World title bid
Cheltenham team monitor ground
Fenton delays Instalment call
Activial to duck Festival mission
Hope springs eternal for Encore
Fab Fly takes on eight in Champion
9 March 2014Fall leaves Cooper 'badly winded'
Cooper warms up with double
Cooper warms up with double
Avenue roads lead to Irish Oaks
Dude's the main man
Top trainers reject watering
Hinterland takes Champion test
Baltimore sets up bonus bid
Warrior wins Trial battle
Fallon hits Meydan heights
Chartreux bounces back to best
Brave Vic has Final word
Soumillon strikes on super Shea
On His Own joins Gold Cup field
8 March 2014Queally hits Sandown target
Briar tops Bartlett contenders
Calipto leads Triumph hopefuls
Ginge fires burn brightly for Neild
Creek forced out of Gold Cup
Milan targeting Final glory
McCoy to miss Sunday and Monday
Exchange rate pays dividend
Temps doubtful for Festival
Conor settles in at Cheltenham
De Bromhead sweet on Special
Epsom to honour St Nick
Mullins dominates JLT entries
Al and Dynaste top Ryanair field
Big two lead World possibles