McCain makes most of Southwell card with five runners and Cheltenham contenders
Donald McCain is making the most of Southwell's additional jumpers for bumpers fixture by sending five runners, along with a handful of his Cheltenham contenders to work before racing.
Having won both his starts this season in novice hurdles at Wetherby and Bangor, Fin And Game (4.25) is the most interesting of the quintet.
The six-year-old is a three-parts brother to former stable star Peddlers Cross, who incidentally finished second in a jumpers' bumper at Kempton in 2013.
"He's a nice type of horse who has been ready to run for a while but with his double penalty he's not the easiest to place in novice hurdles," said McCain.
"He's a raw horse who needs to go racing and with no penalty it seems like an obvious thing to do."
Swashbuckle (1.45) returns to the Fibresand after finishing fifth in a warm Flat handicap at the course last month.
"He ran there only the other week and we probably didn't make enough use of him," said McCain. "He has an obvious chance as he seemed to handle the track okay."
Good Tradition (3.50) takes on the Charlie Longsdon-trained Hammersly Lake, who makes his first start since finishing fifth in the Grade 1 Grand National Hurdle at Far Hills in October, and the McCain team is completed by Volcanic (2.45) and Man Look (3.20).
The trainer said: "The others I'm running are Flat horses with high ratings coming back from breaks and it's a solid way of getting them back rolling."
Leading the McCain gallopers before racing is unbeaten chaser Testify, who was last seen in action winning a Grade 2 novice chase at Haydock in January.
"He's grand but hasn't run since Haydock and we wanted to give him an away day," added the trainer.
"He has five entries at Cheltenham and it's up in the air at the moment – it'll depend on the ground nearer the time."
French raid for Beckett and Smith
With opportunities in Britain thin on the ground, trainers Ralph Beckett and Martin Smith have turned their attentions to France with a runner each in the claimer at Deauville (3.10 GMT).
It is safe to assume the journey across the Channel will present a stern challenge, but the pair mean business with Beckett booking Christophe Soumillon to ride Briyouni and Stephane Pasquier aboard the Smith-trained Ifwecan.
Briyouni will be making his second start for Beckett after finishing fifth at Lingfield on his stable debut in January, while Ifwecan is in line for a first start since September.
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