Jolly’s Cracked It and Sternrubin, who dead-heated for victory 12 months ago, are among 19 runners in the Wessex Youth Trust Handicap Hurdle at Ascot on Saturday.
Harry Fry’s Jolly’s Cracked It and the Philip Hobbs-trained Sternrubin could not be separated in last year’s renewal of a fiercely competitive contest formerly known as The Ladbroke.
Jolly’s Cracked It has not been seen since but is set to make his comeback, while Sternrubin won over the course and distance again in October before finishing fifth in the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham last month.
There is a formidable challenge from Ireland. Tony Martin saddles Quick Jack, Pyromaniac and bottom-weight Golden Spear, while Noel Meade is represented by Waxies Dargle.
Waxies Dargle is one of four runners for leading owner JP McManus, along with Nicky Henderson’s top-weight Hargam, his stable companion Consul De Thaix and the Paul Nicholls-trained Modus, who is the chosen mount of Barry Geraghty.
Other contenders include Henderson’s Brain Power, Dan Skelton’s Meet The Legend and Who Dares Wins from Alan King’s stable.