Maurice Barnes' Pas Trop Tard treads some familiar territory for the Cumbrian trainer in Thursday's BetVictor Morebattle Hurdle at Kelso, providing the meeting passes a 7.30am precautionary inspection.
Just a handful will face the starter for one of the highlights of the season at the Borders course, with the removal of runners by Nicky Henderson, who won the race last year with Simonsig, leaving northern trainers to fight it out.
Pas Trop Tard did not take to hurdling immediately but has really found his feet this season and has won four of his last five starts. The most recent was when coasting 13 lengths clear in a handicap at Ayr on January 3.
Barnes rode the only Scottish winner of the Grand National on Rubstic in 1979 and is based near Brampton. His wife Anne said: "We won the race in 1999 with Caulker, a lovely chestnut who used to run from the front, and he went on to win the Tote Gold Trophy Trial at Ayr for Scott Taylor.
"It's nice to have a horse to fly the flag as we're not a big yard. We thought about going to Cheltenham but I think it's a big ask. He went up 13lb for winning at Ayr and we'll just see how he gets on here."
Barnes paid tribute to stable jockey Michael McAlister, who has been aboard the six-year-old throughout his winning run.
She said: "The penny seems to have dropped with the horse and he gets on so well with Michael. We're so pleased Michael has got the chance on a nice horse. He's not a big horse and we have to space out his races, but it's nice to have a shot at a good race."
Donald McCain, who won the Morebattle the previous year with Peddlers Cross, runs smart handicapper Any Given Day, who showed little on his reappearance at Newbury.
Jimmy Moffatt has taken the trouble to hire Tony McCoy for Morning Royalty, who arrived from the Willie Mullins yard this season and won twice at Carlisle before Christmas. He ran respectably again on his reappearance at Catterick a fortnight ago.
"AP has never actually ridden for me before, but he has some nice rides on the day and let's hope we're good enough for him. I was very pleased with the run the other day, where he was giving away lumps of weight and he took the race well," said Moffatt.
1 March 2017Alan King eager to pencil in Champion Hurdle jockey for Yanworth
Multiple Grade One winner Flemenstar nearing racecourse return
West Approach likely to stick to novice company at Cheltenham
Charlie Longsdon has 'slight leaning' towards RSA for Our Kaempfer
Nicky Henderson expects distance of RSA Chase to benefit Whisper
Exciting Carter McKay leads Champion Bumper squad for Willie Mullins
Triumph Hurdle on the agenda for Charli Parcs after pleasing home spin
Phil Smith insists 'no anti-Irish bias' in handicap ratings
Gigginstown trio notable withdrawals following latest Grand National forfeits
Thistlecrack officially scratched from Cheltenham Gold Cup field
Emmanuel Clayeux to bypass Cheltenham Festival options with Vezelay
French raider Urgent De Gregaine only '50-50' for Festival date
Easter Classic aim for Absolute Blast
Silvestre de Sousa wastes no time in returning to winning ways
Danny Cook and Sue Smith continue winning ways at Catterick
George Baker remains in intensive care after St Moritz fall
Gordon Elliott awaiting handicapper verdict on Martin Pipe hopefuls
Colin Tizzard confirms Thistlecrack expected to be back for Christmas
Mutakayyef on track for Dubai despite Winter Derby withdrawal
Elliott hopeful of improvement from Apple's Jade
Elliott excited by Death Duty's Albert Bartlett claims
Ben Pauling 'slightly leaning towards' Neptune challenge for Willoughby Court
28 February 2017Doncaster to host return to ITV1 coverage this weekend
Tom Symonds eyeing Greatwood Gold for Hollywoodien
Willie Mullins anticipating Meri Devie improvement ahead of Triumph task
Gary Moore eager to pitch Camping Ground into Aintree Hurdle
Kim Bailey mulling Irish National date for Knockanrawley
Bob Baffert confirms Dubai World Cup aim for Arrogate
George Baker remains 'stable' after St Moritz fall
Willie Mullins predicts Ruby Walsh to be sweet on Melon in Supreme
Willie Mullins feels Douvan 'could be the best I have had'
Annie Power earmarked by Willie Mullins for Punchestown comeback
Willie Mullins indicates Limini could be added to Champion Hurdle field
The Last Samuri ready for battle in Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster
Paul Nicholls considers Capitaine for Kelso mission
Gold Cup glory 'a nice way' to end Cue Card career, says owner Jean Bishop
Triumph Hurdle preferred by Joseph O'Brien for Landofhopeandglory
27 February 2017Martin Smith breaks new ground with Cheltenham-bound My Mate Mark
Racehorse trainer 'keen to clear his name' as sex assault trial is delayed
Baie Des Iles on course for Irish National despite Bobbyjo defeat
Gary Moore admits concern over Sire De Grugy
Bryan Cooper expecting star trio to shine again at Cheltenham
Double Shuffle handed Grand National aim by Tom George
Plumpton gets the go-ahead following inspection
Thistlecrack set for further scan on Tuesday
Injured Barry Geraghty to miss Cheltenham Festival after Kempton fall
Forge Meadow firmly in Cheltenham picture after Naas success
Henry de Bromhead readying three-pronged challenge to Altior
Camping Ground leads National Spirit field a merry dance at Fontwell
Tombstone to be supplemented for Champion Hurdle
George Baker awake in hospital after horror fall in Switzerland
Alan King outlines Cheltenham Festival plans
Blow for Neil King as Lil Rockerfeller ruled out of National Spirit Hurdle
26 February 2017Nicky Henderson eager to have Barry Geraghty back for Cheltenham
George Baker in intensive care in Switzerland after St Moritz fall
Dermot McLoughlin to keep Vics Canvas fresh for Grand National
George Baker airlifted to hospital after St Moritz fall
Peter Fahey has Coral Cup preference for Peregrine Run
Sidelined Barry Geraghty faces fitness race but 'hopeful' of making Cheltenham
Trip proves no barrier to success for Winter Derby hero Convey
Mysteree solved for Michael Scudamore in Eider Chase
Another Bobbyjo success for Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh
River Wylde gives Nicky Henderson something to cheer at Kempton
Frodon finds plenty to land Pendil for Paul Nicholls
This means so much - ice-cool James Best bags big Kempton prize on Pilgrims Bay
Alan King seeking Yanworth improvement for Champion Hurdle
Charli Parcs crashes out as Master Blueyes takes Adonis honours at Kempton