INTERSKY Falcon heads a field of eight for the £60,000 Axminster Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton tomorrow.
The Jonjo O’Neill-trained seven-year-old is 9-2 second favourite for the Smurfit Champion Hurdle on the strength of a convincing victory at Kempton over Christmas.
The main opposition is likely to come from the other two horses who are also engaged in the Cheltenham showpiece, Rigmarole and Perouse, both of whom are trained by Paul Nicholls.
Rigmarole won the Tote Bula Hurdle at Cheltenham on his latest start in December, while Perouse is also a useful hurdler, having finished second to Limerick Boy in the Tote Scoop6 Lanzarote Hurdle at Kempton.
Nicholls is strongly represented in the main supporting races.
The country’s leading trainer is double-handed in the 50,000 Country Gentlemen’s Association Chase with Exit Swinger and Royal Auclair, for which six were declared.
All eyes, however, will be on What’s Up Boys, who is on the comeback trail after suffering a serious hock injury on his last start at Wetherby over 15 months. The ten-year-old was runner-up to Bindaree in the 2002 Grand National and the Aintree spectacular is again on the agenda.
Likely favourite tomorrow will be Alan King’s novice D’Argent, who slammed subsequent Doncaster winner Tyneandthyneagain by 26 lengths at Warwick last month.
The Nicholls-trained Thisthatandtother faces just three rivals in the R O Dando & Sons Builders Novices’ Chase.