Victorious 12 months ago aboard The Rainbow Hunter, who was a surprising winner, the Paul Nicholls-trained Easter Day heads to Town Moor with a justifiable reputation.
Lightly-raced, the chaser beat O’Faolains Boy, the subsequent RSA Chase winner, at Ascot in December 2013 before a year-long lay-off.
Easter Day was third on his comeback run at Newbury last month and will face 14 opponents, who include Keith Reveley’s course specialist Night In Milan and Sue Smith’s Mr Moonshine.
Many of the runners are potential Crabbie’s Grand National contenders and there are likely to be Aintree pointers at Huntingdon this afternoon in an informative-looking Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle.
They include Ely Brown who is making his first appearance in almost a year. Charlie Longsdon’s 10-year-old struck twice over fences last winter, including an impressive victory in the Towton Novices’ Chase at Wetherby, before suffering an injury.
Warren Greatrex is also hoping to chart a route to Aintree with Dolatulo who won Wetherby’s Rowland Meyrick Chase on Boxing Day.
He is keen to protect his chaser’s handicap mark ahead of the publication of the National weights next month.
“It’s not just to look after his mark, he is genuinely a better horse when you mix things up a bit,” said Greatrex.
The novice chase entries for the Cheltenham Festival see Brian Ellison’s Yorkist included in the two-mile Racing Post Arkle line-up as he seeks his first win at jump racing’s premier meeting.
Brandsby trainer Rebecca Menzies could have her first runner if Water Garden lines up in the four-mile Toby Balding National Hunt Chase, while Big Water could represent Richmond handler Alan Swinbank in the JLT Novices’ Chase over the intermediate distance of two-and-a-half miles.