Cheltenham Festival runner-up Bristol De Mai heads a small but select field for the Jordan Electrics Ltd Future Champion Novices’ Chase at Ayr today.
The Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained five-year-old has enjoyed an excellent debut season over fences, hitting the bullseye on four occasions including a Grade One triumph in the Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase at Sandown in February.
He found Black Hercules too hot to handle in the JLT Novices’ Chase at Prestbury Park last month, but Twiston-Davies is hopeful he can get back on the winning trail in Scotland this weekend.
“He’s been fine since Cheltenham and it looks a good opportunity,” Twiston-Davies said.
“The ground should be fine and we’re looking forward to running him.”
Bristol De Mai faces five rivals in a Grade Two contest run over an extended two and a half miles.
Henryville is two from three over fences this season and made a successful return from a five-month absence at Exeter last time.
Trainer Harry Fry is keeping his fingers crossed conditions do not deteriorate.
He said: “We’re hoping the ground dries out as much as possible. We certainly wouldn’t want any more rain.
“He’s had a light season, but his best form is on better ground, so we’ll see what it’s like in the morning.
“He’s well in himself and looked in good form when he won at Exeter a few weeks ago.
“That run should leave him spot-on for Saturday, if he takes his chance.”
Pain Au Chocolat returns to chasing after finishing third in the Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton in February.
Trainer Dan Skelton said: “We’re stepping up in trip and there are a few good horses up against him.
“We were always going to either go to Aintree or come here and I didn’t fancy taking on Douvan at Aintree.
“It’s a really good race and we’ll see how we get on.”
Killala Quay disappointed when well fancied for a novice handicap chase at Cheltenham last month and trainer Charlie Longsdon is hoping for a better showing this weekend.
He said: “It’s a stronger race than it normally is, but he’s won his Grade Two this season and we’ll let him take his chance and see what happens.
“If he can pick up bits and pieces of prize-money we’ll be happy, as it is a tough race.
“I think he probably wants three miles in handicap company now, and I did enter him for the three-mile handicap this weekend, but I just felt it might be a tough ask going that far for the first time on soft ground.
“I think there is a good handicap in him over three miles, but that will wait until next season.”
Title-chasing Paul Nicholls runs Le Mercurey and the Venetia Williams-trained Otago Trail completes the field.
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