David Pipe expects the step up to three miles will bring out more improvement from Umbrigado in the Betfair Odds On ITV Races Stayers’ Handicap at Haydock.
Umbrigado will be having first race since finishing sixth behind Reserve Tank in the Grade One Mersey Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree in April.
The five-year-old has also had wind surgery during his seven-month summer break.
Pipe said: “He’s in good form, and this has been the aim for a while.
“He’s stepping up to three miles, but we think that will suit him.
“He’s on a mark of 142, which is probably stiff enough. He’s had a wind op, and we hope there’s improvement in him, but realistically there needs to be if he’s going to go and win a race like this.
“We’ll see what happens this weekend before making plans for the rest of the season.”
Rebecca Curtis is hoping the ground does not soften up too much to dampen Lisnagar Oscar’s chances on Saturday.
The six-year-old is reverting back to hurdles, after being beaten in both his starts over fences.
He won over this course and distance in February, and was third to Champ in the Grade One Sefton Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree in April.
“I’m just worried about the rain that’s coming. I don’t want it too soft,” said Curtis.
“Other than that, he’s in good form and he’s enjoyed the switch back to hurdles at home.
“He won well at Haydock the last time he was there, so hopefully it won’t get too soft. I’m quite hopeful.”
The sole Irish challenger is the Willie Mullins-trained Eight And Bob, who arrives on Merseyside following a victory at Gowran Park last month.
Patrick Mullins, assistant to his father, said: “Eight And Bob has been in good form, mixing codes throughout the year.
“He won nicely back over hurdles at Gowran last time out, and we have been happy with him since.
“He is obviously up in the weights, but hopefully there is more improvement to come from him.”
Anthony Honeyball believes Acey Milan will relish the test of stamina when he steps back up to three miles on testing ground.
“I was fairly pleased with Acey Milan at Plumpton, because he dropped out a bit but then latched back on and got in a good position,” said the Dorset handler.
“Going back up to three miles on soft or heavy ground is what he is crying out for. He didn’t have a hard race last time, and he has come out of it well.”
Nigel Twiston-Davies was far from disappointed with Echiquier’s defeat at Chepstow last month, because it came just a week after a facile success at Hexham.
The Naunton trainer is anticipating a big run from the ex-French five-year-old.
“He was pretty good last time, because it was only seven days after his run before,” said Twiston-Davies.
“He has had a little bit of rest. He likes soft ground, and he could be exciting.
“The trip will be no problem, because he won over two-miles-seven at Hexham.”