Charli Parcs call tough to make
A preview of the pick of the rest of Saturday's action from Cheltenham on Festival Trials Day.
Charli Parcs is the chosen mount of Barry Geraghty
Barry Geraghty admits that while it was difficult choosing Charli Parcs over Defi Du Seuil in the JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial at Cheltenham, those kind of decisions comes with the territory of the job.
As retained rider to JP McManus, Geraghty has one of the most sought-after roles in the weighing room but on the odd occasion such as this , there is the clear possibility he may be on the wrong horse.
Defi Du Seuil has achieved more on the track, winning all four of his races for Philip Hobbs, including a Grade One by 13 lengths at Chepstow last time out.
However, the impression the Nicky Henderson-trained Charli Parcs made on his British debut at Kempton was a lasting one and Geraghty wants to find out more about him.
"It's really a case of I know how good Defi Du Seuil is already, I've ridden him to win twice at Cheltenham, we know he handles it well," said Geraghty.
"With Charli Parcs, there's still a little element of the unknown. He looked very good at Kempton and Nicky has always really liked him.
"I didn't ride him at Kempton but I've been on him at home since then. We just want to see if he handles the track first of all and if he's as good as he looked at Kempton.
"There's rain forecast, whether that will suit him we don't know, we'll just have to take it as it comes."
Geraghty will also be on Anthony Honeyball's Regal Encore in the Hugo's Restaurant Barbados Trophy Handicap Chase, in which sponsor Andy Stewart runs Saphir Du Rheu.
Regal Encore finally delivered on his early promise in a valuable race at Ascot last time out and runs here having had a plethora of options in recent weeks.
Honeyball said: "We were not carried away with the Sky Bet (at Doncaster) as we thought it might be a bit fast for him round there, while JP (McManus) had another horse (Another Hero) in that race, so this slotted in nicely.
"The two-and-a-half-mile trip will be a bit on the short side, but we know he will be staying on well and if there is a bit of give underfoot, it will hopefully slow some of the speedy horses down.
"We needed to get a run in somewhere and it is a very valuable race to win. I would have been disappointed with his career had he not won that big race at Ascot last time.
"He won't run again after this until either the Ultima at the Festival or the Midlands National if it is not a bog."
Alan King's Annacotty has won the race for the past two seasons, but he has shown little since his success 12 months ago.
"Annacotty returns from a break for the Hugo's Restaurant Barbados Trophy," said King.
"He's been disappointing this season, but we hope his little holiday will have freshened him up and they are also talking about rain in the morning which would help him as he has not really had the soft ground he needs this winter."
Shantou Flyer, a winner at the course on New Year's Day, heads the weights, with a former Festival winner in Ballynagour and track regular Buywise also in the 13-runner field.
The Neptune Classic Novices' Hurdle has been a rich course of Festival winners down the years with Bobs Worth and At Fishers Cross the standouts recently.
There has not been a success for the north, though, and Donald McCain is aiming to change that with Mr McGo.
"He's only 3lb off the top-rated so he's bang there and deserves to take his chance," said McCain.
"Crucially he's earned his rating by running down south and I think that makes a big difference.
"At the start of the year, I didn't think he'd be running in races like this as he wants three miles and a fence, really.
"He must have soft ground so we hope the forecast is right. If it isn't, he's in a Grade Two at Clonmel on Thursday."
Kimberlite Candy steps up in class for Tom Lacey, Wholestone has his fourth run of the season at Cheltenham with Challow Hurdle fourth Elegant Escape running for Colin Tizzard.