Celestial Halo winning at Newbury last timePICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Stewart relishing At Fishers clash with Halo
CELESTIAL HALO'S owner Andy Stewart was on Monday not quibbling with the market makers in advance of Saturday's Grade 1 Wessex Youth Trust Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot, for which his ultra-consistent nine-year-old is a best-priced 9-4.
And that despite his comprehensive defeat of At Fishers Cross at Newbury last time in the Long Distance Hurdle. At Fishers Cross, who lost all chance at Newbury with a bad blunder two out, is between an even-money and 6-4 favourite for this weekend's pre-Christmas highlight.
Stewart is relishing another clash with At Fishers Cross, not to mention the second and third from Newbury, Medinas and Reve De Sivola, as he is the racecourse gallop of Big Buck's - which is slated for Exeter on Thursday.
Stewart said: "Barry Geraghty said if At Fishers Cross hadn't fluffed his lines he would have beaten Celestial Halo. Well he did fluff his lines and Daryl Jacob feels completely the opposite.
"I'm pleased to see At Fishers Cross there, and all the others, and am very much looking forward to it."
Reve De Sivola is a general 7-1 chance, though Medinas has been somewhat written off by bookmakers, who mainly quote 16-1.
Big Buck's is expected to work over two miles before racing Exeter and trainer Paul Nicholls said: "I want to give him a day out and have a canter round. I want to do one before Christmas and one mid-January. He's well on schedule, exactly where I want him to be with a view to running in the Cleeve Hurdle."
Nicholls has left three in the Ladbroke Hurdle, the other highlight at Ascot this Saturday - and for which Nicky Henderson has two of the first three in the betting, 6-1 favourite Rolling Star and Chatterbox - but has yet to finalise plans.
"Sametegal is one that wouldn't want it very soft, Ptit Zig and Irish Saint have form on soft," said Nicholls.
"Irish Saint has almost slipped under the radar. He fell at Newbury but badly needed the run because he had a few problems, but his form last year with Rolling Star at Cheltenham and in winning the Adonis makes him a decent horse in his own right. He wouldn't mind rain, nor would Ptit Zig."
Sametegal is the shortest priced of the Nicholls trio at 10-1 with Ladbrokes. Ptit Zig is around a 16-1 chance, with Irish Saint generally 25s.
The going at Ascot on Monday was given as good to soft, and further rain is expected through the week.