Anthony Honeyball is confident Sojourn ticks all the boxes for a big performance in the Betfair Tommy Whittle Handicap Chase at Haydock.
The near three-and-a-quarter-mile trip and the certainty of heavy, testing ground on Saturday should suit the lightly-raced seven-year-old, according to the Dorset-based trainer.
Honeyball decided to aim Sojourn at this race after the Getaway gelding shrugged off 330 days on the sidelines with a 15-length romp on heavy ground at Carlisle seven weeks ago.
Sojourn made a couple of mistakes at the Cumbrian track, but that was understandable because it was only his third race over fences and his seventh career stall in all.
A blunder at the penultimate obstacle when he was well clear failed to stop him coming home well clear of his nearest pursuer, Amateur. He in turn was 24 lengths ahead of the third.
“After he won at Carlisle, we felt that he hadn’t taken a lot of racing, so we’d target this race with him – and hopefully we’ve got there in one piece,” said Honeyball.
“He hasn’t had that many runs over fences yet. But he’s really shaped nicely, and we’re looking forward to running him in it.
“Conditions should suit him fine, and it all looks set fair with the trip and the ground. The track on that ground won’t be a problem. We’re looking forward to it.”
Hill Sixteen is on a hat-trick after winning both his outings this season since joining Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Cotswolds yard.
The seven-year-old was trained by Sue Smith in Yorkshire and was one of the horses sold by owner Trevor Hemmings in the autumn. He was bought for £46,000 at his dispersal sale.
Hill Sixteen could not have made a better start for new connections when trotting up by 46 lengths over fences at Ffos Las.
Twiston-Davies then tried him over hurdles, and he duly obliged with a length verdict over Lil Rockerfeller.
The trainer admits he has concerns about the going for the Court Cave gelding, though.
“He’s done nothing wrong, and hopefully it won’t be too soft for him,” said Twiston-Davies.
“I’m just worried about the ground, but it’s the same for all of them.”
Enqarde is making his debut over fences in Britain for Grand National-winning trainer Dr Richard Newland, although he has plenty of experience in his native France.
Newland believes the time is right to put him over the bigger obstacles after he got off the mark over hurdles at the second attempt at Newcastle this month.
“We’re going over fences, he’s in such super form,” said the Worcester trainer.
“Whether he’ll quite get this trip in the ground, we’ll see.
“He’s got a nice low weight, and he’s in good form, so I’m hopeful he’ll go well. The horses are running well at present.”