Hussard Collonges will command serious consideration as the new kid on the block for championship chasing honours this season if he can win at Haydock on Saturday.
Trained by Peter Beaumont at Brandsby in North Yorkshire, Hussard Collonges, winner of last year’s SunAlliance Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, will be a warm favourite for the Bet Direct Peter Marsh Chase, the feature on a card which has attracted plenty of potential big names.
The eight-year-old ran a cracking race to finish fifth in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury, one place behind Whitenzo whom he now meets on 2lb better terms.
Whitenzo was widely considered unlucky after surviving a monster blunder four out. But Hussard Collonges is taken to further enhance his burgeoning reputation as a likely winnerof the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Plenty of eyes will be on Barton to see if he is back on track after suffering problems since running away with the 1999 SunAlliance Hurdle.
Stromness can upset Deano’s Beeno and strengthen his prospects of taking the stayers’ crown at Cheltenham with victory in the Premier Stayers’ Hurdle.
Highly-rated French import Epitre makes his English debut in the Champion Hurdle Trial against Tony McCoy’s mount Ilnamar and rising star Flame Creek, a winner at Cheltenham last time. If Flame Creek can win again he will enter serious calculations for the Champion Hurdle in March.
Big things are expected of The Bajan Bandit, who meets Man Murphy, It Takes Time and Claymore in a fascinating four-runner race for the Isle of Skye Novices’ Chase.
With the last two weekends frozen off there is also a glut of high class racing to accommodate racegoers at Kempton and Wincanton. The Richard Phillips stable is riding the crest of a wave just now and Dark’n Sharp can continue the rich vein in Kempton’s Tote Exacta Chase.
The last race clash between Chauvinist, Lord Sam and Sh Boom is a mouth-watering event which should throw some light on later championship races in the novice class.
Barry Geraghty flies into Wincanton from Ireland to partner Puntal for Martin Pipe in the Tote Tolworth Hurdle. The evergreen Edredon Bleu will be a popular winner of the Connaught John Bull Chase.