HHO looks ahead to this weekend’s big races around the country

Peter Beaumont whose past winners include the 1993 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Jodami, runs another of his rising stars to throw down the gauntlet to Best Mate and the other top horses.

Hussard Collonges has already stamped his name on the winter game, winning last season’s SunAlliance Novices Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

He returned toaction with a second to Marlborough in Wetherby’s Charlie Hall Chase last month and Beaumont says: “He will have come a bit for that, but the handicapper has been rather severe with him.

“It was a good first run in the Charlie Hall, he went very well, particularly in view of the fact that it was his first run outside novice company.

“His jumping will stand him in good stead on Saturday – he’s a quality horse and we’re hoping he goes well.”

The field is full of dangers. Martin Pipe runs four; one of the favourites, Bounce Back, as well as Isnogoud, Stormez and Take Control.

While Gingembre, third behind Hussard Collonges after he survived a terrible second fence blunder at Wetherby, will be fancied to re-discover his Scottish National winning form of 2001.

Ireland’s Harbour Pilot has been one of the best backed horses and, like Hussard Collonges, has the Gold Cup as his long-term objective. But Hussard Collonges may well show himself tobe the new kid on the block and a worthy challenger to Best Mate’s crown.

The rest of the card is full of likely pointers to the season’s big racesM. Bacchanal side-steps the Hennessy to tackle Brother Joe, Native Emperor and the 2001 Grand National hero Red Marauder in the Cantor Sport Long Distance Hurdle. Nicky Henderson considers Bacchanal to be a live Gold Cup prospect.

Talented flat-racer Dumaran makes his hurdling bow in the novices’ hurdle, while Jair du Cochet, from France, has Sir Rembrandt and Ask The Natives to beat in the Fulke Walwyn Novices’ Chase.

At Newcastle Jonjo O’Neill’s Intersky Falcon will need to continue on the upward curve in the Pertemps Fighting Fifth Hurdle if he is to keep his Champion Hurdle aspirations alive.