Getaway Trump is the star attraction in the Edinburgh Gin Premier Kelso Novices’ Hurdle at Kelso on Saturday.
Following successive wins at Plumpton and Exeter, the Paul Nicholls-trained six-year-old found only Nicky Henderson’s Champ too strong when stepped up to Grade One level for Newbury’s Challow Novices’ Hurdle in December.
On the strength of that form he was well-fancied for the rearranged Betfair Hurdle at Ascot last month and ran with plenty of credit to finish fourth behind Al Dancer.
Getaway Trump appears to have a little less on his plate in this Grade Two contest and connections believe he should prove hard to beat.
Nicholls’ assistant, Harry Derham, said: “This didn’t look much of a race and it is worth £50,000 and it is hard to ignore that.
“He came out of Ascot great, touch wood. His work has been good since and we are very happy with him.
“We expect him to run very well. He probably didn’t get the rub of the green at Ascot and Harry (Cobden) wished things had gone differently. He said he was probably a bit far back and that things probably didn’t go right for him.
“We still have a lot of faith in him. Going back up in trip will help as well.”
Getaway Trump is entered in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, the Coral Cup and the County Hurdle at the upcoming Cheltenham Festival, but is more likely to head straight to Aintree’s Grand National meeting after running this weekend.
Derham added: “He would have to win very easily and come out extremely well to go to Cheltenham.
“We are not ruling it out, but the sensible thing – I would imagine – is to go to Aintree.”
The biggest threat to Getaway Trump on ratings is the Harry Whittington-trained Rouge Vif.
Runner-up to the high-class Mister Fisher at Kempton on Boxing Day, the Sageburg gelding was last seen winning a minor event at Newcastle.
He is rated just 1lb inferior to the likely favourite and Whittington hopes his charge can give him plenty to think about.
He said: “He’s in really good form. He missed the Dovecote at Kempton last Saturday – which was his original target – because of a bruised foot.
“It just stopped him for a couple of days, but he’s fine now and this looked an obvious race to run him in.
“I think the track and the ground should suit and it’s a small field, so we’ll see how we get on.”
The main northern-trained contender is Windsor Avenue, who has won four of his six starts under rules for Brian Ellison.
“I’m looking forward to running him. He’ll be going chasing next year, so his handicap mark over hurdles is immaterial really,” said the Malton handler.
“He’s a horse we think a lot of. He’ll probably only run once more this season after Saturday, but we’ll see how he goes.”
Jim Goldie’s Get Out The Gate, the Nick Alexander-trained Elvis Mail and Strong Glance from Fergal O’Brien’s yard complete the line-up.