Fiddlerontheroof faces a field of five rivals as he gets his season under way in the Listed Colin Parker Memorial Intermediate Chase at Carlisle on Sunday.
The seven-year-old was last seen finishing third behind Chantry House in the Grade One Mildmay Novices’ Chase at Aintree in April, the culmination of a season in which he was placed in every outing in his first term jumping fences.
The Tizzard stable took the race in 2019 with Lostintranslation and were keen to head to Cumbria again as the same connections are involved in both horses.
“He’s in great form, this has been the target for some time actually, off the back of last year because he has the same owners as Lostintranslation,” said Joe Tizzard, assistant to his father Colin.
“It’s a lovely place to start, it’s the right trip for him.
“We’ve sent horses up to it in the past, good horses, and for a second-season novice it’s a lovely place to start.
“Two-mile-three (furlongs) around Carlisle, it’s an extremely fair course, a good jumping track and just a good option for those second-season novices at the right time of year.
“It looks as hot a race as we’ve had for a few years, I was quite keen to do what we did with Lostintranslation and hack round on the bridle to be honest!”
Kim Bailey’s Espoir De Romay also contested the Mildmay at Aintree but fell at the penultimate fence when going well and consequently received a 5lb rise in his rating.
“Like everybody else we’re in the lap of the Gods, depending on how much rain we get,” Bailey said of conditions, which are soft with further rain forecast.
“We’re very happy with him, he’s a very nice horse and two and a half miles is the right trip for him, so fingers crossed.”
Also likely to be keeping a close eye on the weather is Lucinda Russell, trainer of Grade One-winning hurdler Ahoy Senor.
The six-year-old, last seen taking the Sefton Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree, was also entered in the bet365 Novices’ Chase at Wetherby on Friday but was a late non-runner.
The ground was not deemed to be soft enough for the gelding’s chasing debut in West Yorkshire, but Carlisle is likely to be more suitable owing to the persistent rain.
“It’s going to be a tough ask for him and it is two and a half miles when he probably needs three miles, but we’ve taken him out because of the ground from a few tracks, so I’m hoping that Carlisle will suit us,” said Peter Scudamore, Russell’s partner and assistant.
“I think at the weights he’s not badly in, so we’ll just see how we get on. He’s been schooling fine at home and is an ex point to pointer. He’s only had a couple of runs over hurdles and when we’ve schooled with him, we’ve thought he’s jumped particularly well – so this is the first step on the ladder for him.
“It was a fantastic performance to win the Grade One race at Aintree last year and we now have to prove that it wasn’t a fluke. We hope he’s as good as the likes of One For Arthur and Brindisi Breeze, but he’s got to go out and prove it now.”
Fergal O’Brien’s Silver Hallmark was a Grade Two winner in January when taking the Altcar Novices’ Chase at Haydock and prior to that came home just a head behind Fiddlerontheroof when making his chasing debut at Exeter.
The two horses will cross paths again at Carlisle, with O’Brien’s runner taking to the track for the first time in 281 days.
“He’s in great form, he won a Grade Two for us last year and we’re very excited about seeing him back on the track,” said O’Brien.
“They’re getting plenty of rain there and hopefully it continues raining, we’re really looking forward to seeing him back.
“He won first time out over hurdles for us and then he was second last year to a good one of Tizzard’s (Fiddlerontheroof) at Exeter.
“He doesn’t take an awful lot of racing, but at the same time he’s very straightforward.”
Sue Smith’s five-times winner Informateur and Ann Hamilton’s first-season chaser Pay The Piper complete the field of six.