Ahoy Senor will bid to gallop – and jump – his rivals into submission in the Betway Mildmay Novices’ Chase at Aintree on Friday.
Though there are just four runners in the Grade One contest, the three-mile-one-furlong affair promises to be one of the highlights of the jumps season.
The Lucinda Russell-trained Ahoy Senor will bid to turn the tables on Bravemansgame and L’Homme Presse, having suffered defeat at the hands of each in his last two outings.
Peter Scudamore, Russell's partner and assistant, acknowledges the seven-year-old will need to be at the top of his game to overturn the form that saw him beaten seven and a half lengths by Bravemansgame at Kempton on St Stephen's Day, and three and a half lengths by L'Homme Presse at Cheltenham
“The other two are great jumpers, ours is a great galloper, but it is a jumping race and we have to get our jumping together,” said Scudamore. “You have to be concerned. The better they are the more you worry about them.
“We are just beginning to get these better horses and it is more of a worry. You don’t have the good horses that Paul [Nicholls] and Gordon [Elliott] have got and it is anxious times, only because you care about them.”
Ahoy Senor got the better of Bravemansgame in the Grade One Sefton Novices' Hurdle at this meeting 12 months ago and showed he was a force to be reckoned with over fences when when taking the Grade Two John Francome Novices' Chase at Newbury in November.
Though he lost his unbeaten record at Kempton, he bounced back with an impressive win the Towton at Wetherby before L'Homme Presse had his measure in testing ground at Cheltenham.
Jospeh O'Brien, meanwhile, is hoping Aintree's flat track will help Banbridge handle the step up to an extended three miles as he bids for Grade One glory in the Cavani Menswear Sefton Novices' Hurdle.
Banbridge kept on strongly at Cheltenham to win the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle last time under Mark McDonagh.
JJ Slevin, who partnered the six-year-old to success on his penultimate start at Navan, returns to the plate on Friday, with O’Brien’s runner top-rated on a mark of 143.
“Banbridge is well,” said O’Brien. “It’s an open enough race and on paper he looks to have a good shout. If he gets the trip he has every chance.
“I was surprised to see he was top rated in it, but we won’t complain. He’s not guaranteed to stay, he’s always a good traveller and he won a couple of races at two miles this year, but Aintree will give him a chance to stay.”