Impressive Newbury scorer Epatante is one of the star names among 47 entries for this month’s Betfair Exchange Trophy at Ascot.
Nicky Henderson’s mare dominated her rivals in Berkshire last week, and is the 10-1 ante-post favourite with the sponsors for the £150,000 handicap hurdle on December 21.
Henderson’s five-strong entry also includes French Crusader, who was runner-up to Epatante at Newbury.
Several contenders met in last month’s Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham, which saw Alan King’s Harambe get up to score by a neck from the Philip Hobbs-trained Gumball – with Monsieur Lecoq third for Jane Williams and Quoi De Neuf fourth for Evan Williams.
All four are in the mix for Ascot, with Williams hoping for more improvement from his charge.
He said: “Quoi De Neuf came out of Cheltenham in great form, and the Betfair Exchange Trophy is the plan at the moment.
“He is a grand horse, and we were delighted with his run in the Greatwood.
“He is still inexperienced, and it was a cracking run for a horse who has not had that many races.”
The Betfair Exchange Trophy has gone to Irish-trained horses on two occasions.
There are five entries from Ireland this time, including a trio for champion trainer Willie Mullins – 2018 Galway Hurdle runner-up Blazer, recent Thurles winner Fan De Blues and Saglawy.
As previously announced in October, Betfair is offering a £100,000 bonus to connections of any horse that can win the big Ascot handicap and go on to also bag the £155,000 Betfair Hurdle at Newbury on February 8.
Weights for the Betfair Exchange Trophy will be revealed on December 11.