An intriguing field of four will go to post for the M1 Agency Sidney Banks Memorial Novices’ Hurdle at Huntingdon on Thursday.
Some good horses have won this Listed affair over the years – including the Nicky Henderson-trained Shishkin in 2020.
Representing Seven Barrows this year, and heading the market, is Jango Baie, winner the Formby Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree on Boxing Day.
That win in what was the Tolworth Hurdle took his record to two from two over timber, and he will once again be partnered by James Bowen.
“We’re going two-mile-three with him this time and it’s a slight step up (in trip), he was around Aintree over two last time,” said Henderson.
“I thought he was finishing that race very strongly, so I wanted to have a look at him around two and a half just to see. He’s in both the Supreme and the Baring Bingham (at the Cheltenham Festival) come March.
“The owner has both Jango Baie and Jingko Blue – and I’ll put the wrong horse in a race someday soon – and the other horse won very nicely at Sandown on Saturday.”
Two others in the field are unbeaten so far in their hurdling careers – Bugise Seagull for Charlie Longsdon and the Ben Pauling-trained Handstands.
Like Jango Baie, both are two from two and the latter was most recently seen scoring in a novice event at Newcastle.
“He’s a lovely horse who does everything you ask of him at home but no more,” said Pauling.
“I hope his jumping is sharp enough, but he’s certainly a horse that we’ve got no idea where the bottom is and we like him a lot really.
“He’ll be a fabulous chaser next year, but I think he can be a good hurdler this year as well.
“This is a lovely race, it’s cut up in numbers but the quality is there I suppose and it’ll be interesting to see where we fit amongst these and give us a steer towards where we go in the spring.”
The other contender is the Joe Tizzard-trained Diamond Ri, who confirmed the promise of his debut second when winning at Warwick last month.