Sam Twiston-Davies believes Politologue can “start his season with a bang” in the Christy 1965 Chase at Ascot on Saturday.
Twiston-Davies has partnered the grey on 14 of his 16 starts since arriving in Britain and was on board for what was arguably a career-best performance on his latest outing when defeating the Willie Mullins-trained Min in the Melling Chase at Aintree in April.
After deciding to go freelance the following month, Twiston-Davies is no longer the number one jockey to multiple champion trainer Paul Nicholls – with Harry Cobden now in that privileged position.
However, with Cobden in action at Haydock on Saturday to partner Clan Des Obeaux in the Betfair Chase, Twiston-Davies keeps the ride on Politologue on his return to action.
“It is nice to be reunited with Politologue and this race looks a good starting point for him,” said the jockey.
“Ascot is a fair track and although it takes a bit of jumping, he has got experience around there and I’m really hoping we can start his season with a bang.
“I’ve schooled him and ridden work on him. I sat on him last week and he seems in good nick.
“Winning at Aintree was probably the highlight of my season. He jumped and travelled well and he was good and strong at the line.
“I would love it if he could do that again on Saturday.”
Nicholls has saddled a record five previous winners of this Grade Two contest, with Master Minded (2010 and 2011) and another John Hales-owned grey Al Ferof (2013 and 2014) both dual winners.
A successful comeback over two miles and five furlongs will likely earn Politologue a first appearance over three miles in the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.
Twiston-Davies added: “John Hales is a good man who has had many big winners over the years and hopefully I can have another for him on Saturday.
“They are looking to try three miles in the future. He is such a good jumper and travels well and now he is more relaxed in his races, it opens up the possibility to go further in time.”
Kim Bailey’s Charbel met Politologue on a couple of occasions last season and was less than six lengths behind the Nicholls runner when fourth in the Tingle Creek at Sandown.
Charbel rediscovered the winning trail in a Chepstow handicap on his latest outing, giving 12lb and a beating to last weekend’s BetVictor Gold Cup hero Baron Alco.
Bailey said: “This is a step up for him, taking on Politologue again, but hopefully he’ll run well.
“I was delighted with him at Chepstow, I’ve been happy with him since and hopefully this is another step back up the ladder for him.”
Baron Alco’s trainer Gary Moore bids for further big-race success with Benatar, who was due to join his stablemate in last Saturday’s Cheltenham feature before being declared a non-runner on the morning of the race.
Having rounded off the last campaign with an excellent effort to finish third in the JLT Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, Benatar could only finish fourth when a hot favourite on his reappearance at Newton Abbot last month, but Moore hopes he can show his true colours in Berkshire.
“We didn’t run him last week because his bloods weren’t completely right, but he seems in good form,” said the Sussex-based trainer.
“He was disappointing at Newton Abbot, but it was a mess of a race and hopefully on a bigger track, where hopefully they’ll go more of a gallop, we’ll get a true assessment of his ability.
“He’s got his work cut out, but hopefully he’ll run a nice race and then we can take him and Baron Alco for the race at Cheltenham (Caspian Caviar Gold Cup, December 15).”
Nicky Henderson’s Gold Present, the Charlie Longsdon-trained Hammersly Lake and Sizing Granite from Colin Tizzard’s yard complete the field.