Vinndication is set to put his unbeaten record on the line in the 888Sport Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase at Sandown.
The Vinnie Roe gelding won a Ludlow bumper and three novice hurdles last season, completing his four-timer in the Sidney Banks at Huntingdon.
Keen not to overface his charge, trainer Kim Bailey made the brave call to sidestep the spring festivals, and Vinndication has returned this season with two impressive displays over fences – most recently landing a Grade Two prize at Ascot.
He will step up to the highest level for the first time on Saturday, and Bailey said: “Unbeaten records are difficult things to try to keep going. He has done everything we have asked him to go and do, and hopefully he will carry on doing that.
“He is never going to be flashy at home and is never going to be flashy on a racecourse either, but he is just an interesting character. He would be an interesting person to have a drink with actually!”
Vinndication is already a stable star, of course.
Bailey added: “Any horse that can do what he has done is very important to any yard – it doesn’t matter who you are. They are hugely exciting horses to get hold of, very hard to find and are treasured creatures.
“He has never been to Sandown before, and we have got this ridiculous thing at the moment whereby every time he has run he has run right-handed – and that has been pure coincidence more than anything else.
“I don’t see why Sandown should interfere with his ability. I think Sandown will suit him – I sincerely hope so anyway.”
Vinndication is due to face four rivals rivals over two and a half miles, including Colin Tizzard’s Lostintranslation – winner of the Dipper Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day.
Joe Tizzard, assistant to his father, said: “We were chuffed to bits with him in the Dipper. He got in tight at two out (fences), but he is a really strong and brave horse that should only get better.
“Two and a half miles is perfect for him at the moment, and next season he could definitely be the sort of horse for a King George.”
Lostintranslation renews rivalry with Dipper runner-up Defi Du Seuil – trained by Philip Hobbs.
Gary Moore’s Dell Oro and the Warren Greatrex-trained Mulcahys Hill complete the quintet.
Greatrex said: “He’s had a wind-op, and I think that has had a big effect. He seems in very good form and seems a changed horse.
“He’ll like the ground – I think it will be quite hard work – he’s a good jumper and will keep on galloping, so we’ve got our fingers crossed.”