Ben Haslam is eyeing Cheltenham Festival races for JP McManus-owned pair Squouateur and Bouvreuil.
The powerful Irish owner is certain to have a formidable team heading to the Cotswolds next month – with stars like Buveur D’Air, Le Richebourg, Champ and Sir Erec.
Haslam’s two inmates have proven form at the Festival, and the Middleham handler hopes that will stand them in good stead.
Bouvreuil, who has been placed at three Festivals when trained by Paul Nicholls, has the Brown Advisory & Merribelle Stable Plate Handicap Chase and Grand Annual as his two options.
Squouateur may return for the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup, in which he was third last year for Gordon Elliott.
“We’ve had some good winners with some of Mr McManus’ horses – and with a bit of luck, we might have some heading to Cheltenham in March,” said Haslam.
“Squouateur, who hasn’t run for me yet, was third in the Kim Muir last season. We’ll try and freshen him up and have a go at that with him.”
He has taken his time, meanwhile, with Bouvreuil.
Haslam added: “Bouvreuil won at Wetherby in December. He’s a horse that seems to run best fresh, so we’ve kept him back for the Plate on the same day as the Kim Muir – unless there’s a lot of rain.
“He’s got the option of the Grand Annual as well.
“Those horses that have good form at Cheltenham, it’s always good to try to get them back there for another crack. For those handicaps, you need an enormous amount of luck to even be placed in those races. It will be a case of having a go.”