TIM Easterby fears soft ground could scupper the chances of his Cheltenham Festival winner Hawk High in the inaugural running of the £100,000 Betfair Price Rush Hurdle.
Champion Hurdle third The New One heads the five-runner field but Great Habton-based Easterby is worried about conditions for his Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle hero, who made a winning comeback at Aintree last month.
Even though jockey Brian Hughes is in a rich vein of form, Easterby noted: “I have spoken with Trevor Hemmings (owner) and he was keen to run.
“I am always worried about the ground with him but he should be okay. He has run well on soft ground but is a better horse on good ground.”
John Quinn’s Aurore D’Estruval looked a mare with a bright future last season and she appeared to have improved again on her return to action at Wetherby.
She was never out of second gear in winning by 10 lengths under Tony McCoy, but Quinn is well aware this is a much stiffer task.
“We feels she’s earned a step up in grade but this is a different kettle of fish to what she faced at Wetherby,” said the Malton handler. “She’s in good fettle and she’ll run well. It will tell where we are going I should think.”
On a day of top-class action, all eyes will be on Ascot when the Willie Mullins-trained Faugheen reappears in the Coral Hurdle. Unbeaten in five outings over hurdles, including the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham in March, Ruby Walsh’s mount is ante-post favourite for next year’s Stan James Champion Hurdle.