Arkle favourite Peddlers Cross is set to put his unbeaten record over fences on the line on day two of Kempton’s King George meeting next Tuesday.
Last season’s Champion Hurdle runner-up has made a brilliant start to his career over the larger obstacles, putting in two excellent rounds of jumping at Bangor and winning without being troubled.
Donald McCain’s pride and joy missed an intended engagement at Haydock on Saturday due to the testing conditions and he now heads to Kempton for a Grade Two prize better known as the Wayward Lad Novices’ Chase.
McCain said yesterday: “He worked well this morning. He is likely to take on Sprinter Sacre, among others, so it could be an exciting race.”
The Grand National-winning trainer has also given his superbly consistent performer Overturn a surprise entry in the williamhill.com Christmas Hurdle at Kempton on Boxing Day.
He was last seen finishing a fine second to Grandouet in the International at Cheltenham and while McCain had initially suggested his charge would now have a winter break, he has had a change of heart.
“I’ve already said twice this season I was going to put him away until Cheltenham in March – and twice now I’m back-tracking,” added the handler. “I don’t think the ground will be as bad as I initially feared. But a word of warning – if it is soft or worse at Kempton, he will not be taking part.”
Meanwhile Kauto Star and Long Run feature among just eight confirmations for the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.
The veteran Kauto Star, seeking a fifth win in the race, is joined by Master Minded – a stablemate at the yard of champion of champion trainer Paul Nicholls.
Henrietta Knight is set to saddle her stable star Somersby, the mount of Guiseley’s Dominic Elsworth, with Diamond Harry representing Nick Williams.
Philip Hobbs’s Arkle winner Captain Chris is another trying three miles for the first time while Nacarat – the 2010 Charlie Hall Chase hero – and Golan Way complete the stellar line-up.
n Midnight Chase remains firmly on course for a trip to Wetherby on Boxing Day after heading 21 entries for the Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase.
The nine-year-old won three fiercely competitive Cheltenham handicaps last season before finishing a creditable fifth in the Gold Cup.
Midnight Chase was well beaten when falling on his seasonal return at Down Royal, but trainer Neil Mulholland is hopeful his star turn can bounce back to form.
Nicky Henderson has handed recent Aintree winner Master Of The Hall an entry in the Grade Three contest, while Wayward Prince – winner of this year’s Towton Novices Chase at te track – could get his season back on track after disappointing in the Hennessy Gold Cup.
Impressive Kelso winner Always Right is also a major contender for owner-trainer John Wade. Other interesting candidates include Haydock scorer Cappa Bleu and Sue Smith’s course winner Lackamon.