Make Me A Believer bids to provide David Pipe with another big-race victory in the Ballymore Leamington Novices’ Hurdle at Warwick.
The Pond House handler has enjoyed several Saturday successes this season, with the prolific Main Fact scoring at Haydock, Vieux Lion Rouge landing the Becher Chase at Aintree and Adagio striking Grade One gold in the Finale Juvenile Hurdle at Chepstow just last weekend.
Make Me A Believer made a winning start to his campaign at Cheltenham last month and faces a step up in distance and class for this weekend’s Grade Two assignment.
Pipe said: “He’s a horse we like, and it was a good performance at Cheltenham last time.
“We’re stepping him up in trip, and hopefully he can run a good race.
“We’re hoping that he’ll develop into a nice three-mile chaser, and this is a nice stepping-stone for this season anyway.”
Make Me A Believer is joined at the head of the market by Adrimel, who actually won an Irish point-to-point in which Make Me A Believer fell almost two years ago.
Adrimel has since won twice in the bumper sphere and twice over hurdles – and while he missed a top-level engagement in the Tolworth Hurdle a fortnight ago, he is reported to be back in good form by trainer Tom Lacey.
“I just wasn’t happy with him going into the Tolworth, but I’m very happy with him now,” said Lacey.
“We’re stepping up in trip, but that should suit him. He’s obviously got to carry a 3lb penalty, which doesn’t help, but he’ll get his ground and we’re looking forward to running him.
“We’ve put cheekpieces on him in the hope they engage his brain more than anything. I don’t think anyone could question how genuine he is, but he needs to go through his races in a slightly more professional manner, and his jumping might be a little bit cleaner as well.”
Alan King hopes to learn a lot more about Jay Bee Why, who made his hurdles debut a winning one over course and distance last month.
The Barbury Castle trainer said: “We can’t really get a handle on the form, because not many have run out of the race, so we will learn a lot on Saturday.
“We’ve not asked him many questions at home since, but whether he is up to this grade we will see.
“We thought he was very good before his bumper last year, but he just boiled over beforehand and didn’t really show up.
“He just had a little wind problem and he was only just ready to run at Warwick last time, so it was a pleasant surprise he won, but this is a big step up in class. ”
Dan Skelton believes Leicester scorer Midnight River has strong claims of making it three wins from four starts over hurdles this season.
Skelton said: “He is a very nice horse that is a future chaser – but having said that, he has done well over hurdles so far.
“He is in great form and he goes there with a live chance, I believe.”
Connections of the Colin Tizzard-trained Oscar Elite, who is chasing a hat-trick following back-to-back victories at Chepstow, hope he can take a step up in class in his stride.
Assistant trainer Joe Tizzard said: “He is two from two in novice hurdles, so this looks the obvious next step.
“He is the highest-rated in the race, but this is another step forward from what he has done.
“The trip will be fine for him, and he won on heavy ground last time at Chepstow – he doesn’t have to have it, but he copes with it.”
Mint Condition (Jennie Candlish), Lord Of Kerak (Olly Murphy), Optimise Prime (Ben Pauling) and Pure Bliss (Harry Fry) are other recent winners in what promises to be an informative contest.