Saphir set for Wetherby return

Saphir Du Rheu is set to kick off his season in the £40,000 Grade Two bet365 Hurdle at Wetherby on day two of the bet365 Charlie Hall Meeting this weeke

Saphir Du Rheu will return to action at Wetherby this weekend

The seven-year-old, trained by Paul Nicholls, was runner-up in the 2015 World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and ended that campaign with a 15-length victory in a novices' chase at Aintree.

He finished fifth when sent off favourite for last season's Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury after an impressive reappearance at Carlisle and failed to produce his best in four subsequent starts over hurdles and fences.

He is also entered in Saturday's feature race at Wetherby, the £100,000 G2 bet365 Charlie Hall Chase.

Owner Andy Stewart said: "Saphir Du Rheu is fine and will probably go the Tidal Bay route in the bet365 Hurdle as prep race for possibly the Hennessy.

"Paul has had a look at the races and you have got the likes of Cue Card in the Charlie Hall so I think the best option is the hurdle. Saphir Du Rheu also has an entry at Ascot but he is almost certain to go for the hurdle.

"We could not understand last season because he looked like a world beater first time out at Carlisle. We are back in the groove with him now and it will be interesting to see how he gets on at the weekend."

Tidal Bay captured the bet365 Hurdle for Nicholls in 2012 and next time out was runner-up under top-weight to subsequent Cheltenham Gold Cup victor Bobs Worth in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury.

The 11 entries for this year's bet365 Hurdle also include Grade 1-winning novices from last season in Ballyoptic (Nigel Twiston-Davies) and Unowhatimeanharry (Harry Fry), plus Native River (Colin Tizzard) and Lil Rockerfeller (Neil King).

Read More at Sporting Life

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