Big Easy (yellow and black): kicked off the current fantastic run being enjoyed by the Philip Hobbs yard with victory in the CesarewitchPICTURE: Getty Images
Cesarewitch hero Easy remains in good form
WAYNE HUTCHINSON returns after 24 days on the sidelines with a clear winning chance for boss Alan King.
Hutchinson, who has been resting his troublesome right knee since hurting it at Doncaster, has already steered Ulzana's Raid to a Cheltenham victory this season and he bids to do so again today.
The biggest threat to a Hutchinson comeback strike appears to be Big Easy, who has followed Cesarewitch success with two second-placed efforts in hotter handicap hurdles than this one.
Easy and Invicta return
Big Easy and Invicta Lake return to Cheltenham but move from the Old to New course after finishing second and third here behind Katkeau on Paddy Power Gold Cup day. Big Easy is 4lb worse off with his rival but he beat him by four and a half lengths and subsequently reversed form with Katkeau when second to Aubusson at Haydock.
Raid's Grade 2 option
A mark of Alan King's respect for Ulzana's Raid is the fact he entered him for tomorrow's Grade 2 Osborne House Relkeel Hurdle.
Chasers reverting to hurdles have a decent record in the race with last year's winner Sunnyhillboy and Fair Along both having taken the spoils. That could bode well for King Massini, who was not disgraced when ninth in the Paddy Power Gold Cup.
What they say
Rebecca Curtis, trainer of Peckhamecho
He has a lot to do off top weight. He didn't run too bad at Newbury but I would say he would be up against it.
Alan King, trainer of Ulzana's Raid and Fighter Jet
I was pleased how Ulzana's Raid was able to complete his hat-trick at Cheltenham's opening meeting. He is progressing nicely, although we won't overdo things with him this season as he's still a bit on the leg. He'll stay hurdling this winter but will make a lovely chaser next season. Fighter Jet ran well for a long way at the last meeting before tiring in going that was very testing. Better ground should suit him.
Philip Hobbs, trainer of Big Easy
He's a fantastic horse and has continued doing very well since winning the Cesarewitch. He remains in very good form and I think some better ground will help. I expect this time next year he'll be novice chasing.
Nigel Twiston-Davies, trainer of Sybarite and Speed Master
Sybarite has his own way of doing things but I hope it keeps raining as the more it does the better his chance will be. Speed Master has not been enjoying fences so I'm hoping hurdles will revitalise him.
Suzy Smith, trainer of Invicta Lake
The ground was completely against him last time and although there is rain forecast the conditions can't be as bad as they were in November when Paddy Brennan had to take him quite wide because of the ground. He only went up 1lb for that and I'm pretty confident of a good run this time.
Evan Williams, trainer of King Massini
He ran well in the Paddy Power but just wasn't good enough. He is 11lb lower over hurdles and with 11lb less over fences he would have been in the mix in a race like the Paddy Power. He has never won a hurdle race but it's worth a crack for that money off that weight.
Today's key pointer
Since 2009 Nicky Henderson has figures of 111123 in novice hurdle races at Cheltenham during the month of December, for a profit of £9.17 to £1 stakes. Clondaw Banker runs at 3.45.
Pointer appears from Raceform Interactive
Bangor chase: heavy; hurdle: soft, heavy in places
Cheltenham good to soft
Doncaster soft, good to soft in places on the hurdles course