Such is the competitive nature of the valuable Coral Trophy Handicap Chase that Christian Williams says rank outsider Kitty’s Light holds an equally good chance as his other two runners in Saturday’s Grade Three contest at Kempton.
Brian Hughes, who is well on course to be crowned champion jockey and hit the 200-winner mark for the season, takes the ride aboard the six-year-old, who has won four of his 12 starts over fences.
He is joined by stablemates Five Star Getaway and Cap Du Nord, who are second- and third-favourites with the sponsor respectively.
Cap Du Nord is a hard-knocking handicapper who has won five of his 26 outings over fences and was third to Windsor Avenue in the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster last month.
Five Star Getaway earned a similar placing at Sandown three weeks ago and seeks a fifth chase win in nine starts, having scored over the same three-mile course and distance over Christmas.
Though Kitty’s Light was a well-beaten favourite at the Sunbury track last month, his in-form Glamorgan handler feels he is coming back to form.
Williams said: “I am looking forward to running all three and I couldn’t split them. It looks like everything is come in their favour and my horses are just starting to fire.
“Kitty’s Light is coming back to himself and just did a great piece of work which we had not seen during the winter, and I have a sneaky feeling that he will run a big race.
“Cap Du Nord is rated 127 and to get into a big 0-150 handicap is great.
“We are still waiting for him to show what he showed last year, but at Doncaster last time we thought he was getting there. He is down a couple of pounds as well, which will help.
“Five Star Getaway does the talking himself. Perhaps Kempton might suit him a little better than Sandown. A little bit nicer ground this time might also suit him.
“It is hard to split them. We are grateful that all the owners have let me run their horses. It is not ideal clashing, but with the prize money on offer – it is worth £150,000 and over £85,000 to the winner – and only 14 runners, it looks like a good opportunity for all of them.
“We wouldn’t swap ours for too many and we’re looking forward to it.”
Ascot’s Silver Cup Handicap Chase winner Annsam heads the market for fellow Welshman Evan Williams.
Having taken the Listed three-mile contest before Christmas, he arrives at Kempton a fresh horse.
Williams said: “He’s grand. Everything is good. He won well last time and we have just been waiting for this time of year for him.
“He had done plenty of racing before Christmas and we wanted to give him plenty of time, but this looks a nice place to go. I hope he has a good chance.”
The Big Breakaway, who was third to Monkfish in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase at last season’s Cheltenham Festival, has not beaten a horse home in three starts over fences since then, yet a wind operation appeared to galvanise him on his return to hurdling.
The Colin Tizzard-trained seven-year-old goes back over the bigger obstacles after being beaten narrowly by The Brimming Water at Newbury.
Phoenix Way, runner-up to Annsam at Ascot, franked that form when scoring at the Berkshire track last month under 3lb claimer Kevin Brogan, who keeps the ride.
His trainer Harry Fry said: “He is back up in trip having won over two-five the last day.
“It is a valuable prize and we’ll see if he is up to carrying 6lb more.
“Kevin gave him a lovely ride last time and if he can do the same, we’ll be very happy. You’d expect it to be a hot race with that prize fund, but we will give it a whirl.”
Paul Nicholls is represented by both Lalor and Enrilo, who sports first-time blinkers, and they are joined by Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained Rowland Meyrick winner Good Boy Bobby.
Sam Thomas, who had a big Saturday double at Ascot last weekend, saddles Our Power, who has won two of his last three and goes up in trip.
He said: “He had an entry in the Pendil Novices’ Chase as well, but we decided on going for the handicap.
“It looks a very good race. He tackles three miles for the first time, but he should handle it and we’d be hopeful of a good performance.”
The field is rounded out by Gary Moore’s Lingfield Winter Million Handicap scorer Zhiguli and the Dan Skelton-trained Beakstown, who is also going up in distance, having finished runner-up to Imperial Alcazar over and extended two and a half miles at Cheltenham last month.
Skelton said: “Beakstown is worth a step up in trip. We are happy with him.
“He ran well at Cheltenham the last day and to be fair he has been beaten by good horses in his last twice.
“He is running against good horses again on Saturday, but that is what one-hundred-and-fifty-grand races are – they are not given away.”