Baracouda runs in Britain for the second time this season when he turns up for his annual tilt at the Cantor Sport Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot tomorrow and it is difficult to imagine this amazing stayer being beaten.
The Francois Doumen-trained eight-year-old will not be a good betting proposition, but it will be a pleasure to see him in action again as he continues a programme that will lead to an attempt at a third consecutive Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival next March.
Baracouda has already won four times at Ascot and his current sequence of victories would stand at 13 races and stretch back for more than three years had he not lost this very race last year when his jockey allowed Deeno’s Beano a massive lead and could not quite claw it back.
That sort of suicidal nonsense seems to have been cast aside judging by Baracouda’s performance at Newbury last month, when there was no sign of excessive waiting tactics as he beat the same opponent by seven lengths.
Trabolgan has yet to win in four career outings but he has shaped with immense promise and his turn should come in the Mitie Group ‘National Hunt’ Maiden Hurdle.
Nicky Henderson’s five-year-old was runner-up in all three of his bumpers last season, culminating in running Liberman to half a length in the Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival, a race that has produced a staggering amount of winners.
Trabolgan could have been among them had he not taken a tumble four out when going well on his debut over jumps at Aintree last month, and with a clear round he will take all the beating.
There could be well be a Northern-trained success in the showcase handicap as Cumbria-based Nicky Richards looks to have the answer to the Derek Hankinson Chase with Byron Lamb.
The six-year-old is used to winning, having scored seven times in 11 career outings, but he has not been overburdened by the handicapper despite his record and looks to be on a handy mark.
Byron Lamb ran right up to his best on his seasonal debut at Wetherby last month when beaten three-quarters of a length by Sir Storm, a winner since, when trying to concede a stone, and the expected improvement would see him home in front tomorrow.
Eric’s Charm can take a step up in class in his stride when he goes for a hat-trick in his third outing of the season in the Scanmoor Construction Kennel Gate Novices’ Hurdle.
Oliver Sherwood’s five-year-old, a dual bumper winner last season, jumped well and spread-eagled his field at Hereford at the beginning of the month, coming home 12 lengths clear of Mister Felix.
Best bet at Uttoxeter could be the Charlie Mann-trained Keltic Bard, who came within an ace of a debut victory over fences at the beginning of the month, in the St Modwen Properties Beginners’ Chase.
Keltic Bard is one of the better recruits to chasing after a hurdling campaign highlighted by fourth place to Back In Front in the Supreme Novices at the Cheltenham Festival last March, when he finished a neck ahead of Thisthatandtother.
His trainer earmarked him as a potential Arkle Trophy horse for this season immediately afterwards and Keltic Bard came within a short head of beginning the new campaign with a victory, but was just worried out of it by the well-regarded L’Ange Au Ciel at Exeter.
On the all-weather at Southwell, Mi Odds looks the one to be on in the Littlewoods Bet Direct Handicap.
The seven-year-old has been in tip-top form in four outings on the dirt since the beginning of October and trainer Norma Macauley was confident he would add to his gains at Wolverhampton on Saturday before that meeting was abandoned.
His half-length second to the progressive Strong Hand last time out was an excellent run and he will appreciate the step up from nine furlongs to 12 tomorrow.
Blofeld had no trouble notching a four-length victory over course and distance a week ago and should be able to defy a 7lb penalty in the Bet Direct On 0800 32 93 93 Nursery.