Peter Fahey is expecting a big run from Belfast Banter in the Unibet Elite Hurdle at Wincanton on Saturday.
The six-year-old, a winner at the Cheltenham and Aintree Festivals in the spring, is on a retrieval mission after taking a tumble on his latest start at Listowel six weeks ago.
Belfast Banter was in the process of running a big race when he came down at the final flight in a handicap hurdle won by Dysart Diamond.
“He seems in very good form. He’s fresh and well and it looks like the ground is going to be in his favour. It’s going to be pretty dry there so we’re hoping for a very big run,” said Fahey, whose charge is likely to clash with Sceau Royal and Goshen at the Somerset venue.
“He was a bit sore the day after his fall at Listowel, but he’s come out of it fine. He’s schooled well at home. Everything seems fine. He was going to run a big race that day.”
The County Kildare trainer has warned Royal Kahala will not take up her engagement in the Lismullen Hurdle at Navan on Sunday if the ground is not suitable.
“Everything is going well. She’s done her last bit of work and she worked well. My concern is she won’t run unless the ground is plenty slow, which looks unlikely at the moment, but we’ll see how the way things are,” he said.
“She has the Grabel Hurdle in Punchestown as an option the following weekend. She’ll have a couple of entries, but if the ground is right on Sunday she is very forward for her run.”
Royal Kahala won her first two starts over hurdles last season and was second in the Grade Three Solerina Hurdle at Fairyhouse before finishing in midfield in the Grade Two Parnell Properties Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.