The Big Doyen attempts to continue his fine form from the summer when he heads to Cheltenham in search of ideal conditions in the Trustatrader Novices’ Hurdle.
Peter Fahey’s six-year-old brings plenty of experience to the table and having bumped into plenty of useful operators when failing to shed his maiden status last term, has thrived over timber of late, winning two of his last three and finishing second in Listed company in his most recent outing.
His trainer is no stranger to success in this race, having sent out the 20-time winner Peregrine Run to score in 2016, and feels his charge is an improved model in his second season hurdling.
“It is a very competitive race and we are bringing him over looking for some bit nicer ground,” said Fahey.
“His experience is a big plus, he was tipping away in good maiden hurdles last year and he has come to the fore this year on nicer ground, stepping up in trip.
“He’s in good nick and he’s definitely improved a bit since we’ve stepped him up in trip. I hope he puts up a good run for the lads.”
There is further Irish representation in the race thanks to John McConnell’s hat-trick-seeking Kinbara, but the undoubted class among the opposition is Paul Nicholls’ Captain Teague, who bids to give the Ditcheat handler back-to-back victories in the Grade Two event.
The champion trainer saddled subsequent Grade One scorer Hermes Allen to strike in this contest 12 months ago and looks to have another candidate right out of the top drawer judged on Captain Teague’s Champion Bumper third and emphatic hurdles bow in the Persian War.
“He’s a class act and this race has been the plan since he made a pleasing winning debut over hurdles last month in the Grade Two Persian War at Chepstow where he jumped well, cruised to the front before the second-last and readily drew clear of some useful types,” Nicholls told Betfair.
“Captain Teague is a gorgeous, big horse and that was his first gallop on grass this season so he will have learned plenty because he was still a bit green.
“He had a nice school out on the grass earlier this week and goes to Cheltenham with a big chance.”
Joe Tizzard won the Mucking Brilliant Paddy Power Handicap Chase with Amarillo Sky last year and will attempt to repeat the dose with Triple Trade.
The seven-year-old kept on stoutly to pick up a silver medal over course and distance at the October Meeting and is just 1lb higher bidding to go one better.
“He ran a blinder last time. It was his first run of the season, he was a bit rusty for the first mile and then stayed on really well,” said Tizzard.
“In time we might step up in trip, but on this ground we’ll ride him a bit more positively and off the back of that run he has to have a lovely chance in this.
“Perhaps on spring ground we’ll step him up, but on this ground I think he’s got enough pace – I’m not worried about sticking at two (miles) for the minute, especially round Cheltenham.”
Chief among Triple Trade’s rivals could be Do You Know who drops back to the minimum distance on his second start for Lucinda Russell, while Dan Skelton’s Calico and Olly Murphy’s No Risk At All are others of note in a competitive two-mile handicap.
Gavin Cromwell claimed the opening Lycetts Insurance Brokers Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle in 2022 with Sweet Will and will try for a repeat with Fathom Two, while Irish handlers also have a strong hand in the concluding Valda Energy Novices’ Handicap Hurdle where the Fahey-trained Showman could bring the curtain down on the opening day of the November Meeting in style.
“Showman’s last couple of runs have been pretty good,” said Fahey.
“He lost nothing in defeat the last day at Cork and I think he will run a really nice race. Hopefully he puts up a good performance for Chris (Blair, owner).”