The pecking order among the rising stars at Nicky Henderson’s yard could become slightly clearer after the Sky Bet Supreme Trial Novices’ Hurdle at Ascot on Friday.
Lough Derg Spirit and Thomas Campbell will lock horns and bid to give the Seven Barrows handler a fifth victory in the Grade Two contest.
While Lough Derg Spirit impressed when making a winning debut at Kempton last month, it was a different story for Thomas Campbell, who followed up his inaugural victory over hurdles at Cheltenham with a workmanlike success at the Berkshire track on his most recent outing.
Henderson said: “Thomas Campbell is learning, but he needs to listen and concentrate. At Ascot the other day, it didn’t look like he would win. He then woke up and flew home. He does need to do a little bit more on Friday.
“Lough Derg Spirit was the other way round. He flew round Kempton like a bullet. He looked sharp and his jumping was slick. He has got to do that again.
“Both horses will get two and a half miles, but we will stay here (two miles) for the time being.”
Although connections of Captain Forez do not expect to see the best of him until he is switched to fences, they are hopeful the Dan Skelton-trained four-year-old can build on a solid debut run at Newbury.
His owner John Hales said: “Captain Forez is going to be a chaser. He is not built to be a specialist hurdler at all. He has got tremendous pace as he is by the same sire as Sprinter Sacre (Network).
“He is going to be some chaser, but he will probably be hurdling this year and next year and he won’t go over fences until he fills his frame.
“He was not far behind Jenkins at Newbury, he just got a bit tired. I don’t envisage the ground being a problem as there is rain forecast.”
Hales’ Politologue will face just three rivals as he bids to make it two from two over fences in the Mitie Noel Novices’ Chase, to give trainer Paul Nicholls a hat-trick of wins in the Grade Two event having captured it 12 months ago with Le Mercurey and in 2014 with Ptit Zig.
“He was very impressive at Haydock. It was the best first-time-out performance by one of my horses over fences. I can’t give any higher accolade,” said Hales, who owned former Champion Chase hero Azertyuiop and the great One Man.
“Up until that point it would have been One Man at Ayr, but he did make a mistake whereas Politologue was foot-perfect.
“Hopefully he will have learnt from that and come on again. I am looking forward to running him as we may have a superstar on our hands. We will know where we are after tomorrow with him.”
Ben Pauling expects Boreham Bill to put in a bold show in the Listed Neptune Investment Management Championship Standard Open NH Flat Race.
After striking first time out at Market Rasen in October, the four-year-old only found one too good when upped in class at Cheltenham last month.
Pauling said: “Boreham Bill has come out of his last race brilliantly. He did his best ever piece of work on Tuesday. He is in very good order and I’d like to see him go very close.”