L’Homme Presse has been declared in a top-class field of four for the Betway Mildmay Novices Chase at Aintree on Friday – with connections hoping for suitable conditions in order for him to run.
A hugely impressive winner of the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, the Venetia Williams-trained gelding requires sufficient cut in the ground to take his chance.
“We are declared and want to run in what will be a marvellous race,” said co-owner Andy Edwards.
“However, if there is not enough juice in the ground when we get there on Friday, we won’t run.
“The ground must be safe for him. Fingers crossed the rain helps, along with the officials’ watering policy.”
On Thursday morning the going on the Mildmay course was described as good, good to soft in places with selective watering set to take place.
Paul Nicholls’ Bravemansgame had been the leading novice chaser in the UK in the lead up to Cheltenham, but was taken out of the Brown Advisory when the ground turned very soft on the second day of the Festival.
He has been declared along with Lucinda Russell’s Ahoy Senor, second to L’Homme Presse last month.
Gordon Elliott’s Fury Road, a Grade One winner who missed Cheltenham, completes the quartet, who are all Grade One winners.
Joseph O’Brien’s Fakir D’oudairies will face nine rivals as he attempts to follow up last year’s victory in the Marsh Chase.
Won by the likes of Sprinter Sacre, Don Cossack and Min in recent seasons, the two-mile-four-furlong Grade One is better known as the Melling Chase.
Fakir D’oudairies was in a different parish to his rivals 12 months ago, winning by an eased-down 11 lengths, and arrives on the back of another Grade One success at Ascot. He missed Cheltenham to be kept fresh for this.
The Williams-trained Funambule Sivola produced yet another career-best last time out when second to Energumene in the Champion Chase at Cheltenham.
That came on the back of his win in the Game Spirit Chase and he steps back up in trip having finished second in the Peterborough Chase earlier in the season.
Allmankind needs to bounce back to form having disappointed twice since winning the Old Roan over this course and distance before Christmas, while Captain Guinness represents Henry de Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore.
Sceau Royal, Editeur Du Gite, Hitman, Mister Fisher, Paint The Dream and Saint Calvados complete the field.
Jonbon stays at two miles for the Betway Top Novices’ Hurdle. Nicky Henderson had also given him an entry in Saturday’s Mersey Novices’ Hurdle over two and a half miles.
He lost his unbeaten record to stablemate Constitution Hill at Cheltenham, but time may prove he faced an impossible task that day.
“He’s had a fantastic year, the only horse who’s beaten him is Constitution Hill and he deserves a Grade One before we put him to bed. He’s going to make a lovely chaser next year,” Henderson told Sky Sports Racing.
Henderson also runs First Street and there is a strong Irish challenge.
Willie Mullins sends El Fabiolo, Elliott runs Vina Ardanza, Imperial Cup winner Suprise Package goes for Peter Fahey and Salamanca Bay represents Jonathan Fogarty.
A maximum field of 30 will line up in the Randox Topham Chase over the Grand National fences, with the Mullins-trained Royal Rendezvous tops the weights.