We Have A Dream headlines clash of exciting young hurdlers at Wincanton
Unibet Elite Hurdle (Grade 2) | 1m7½f | 4yo+ | ITV4/RUK
Can Champion Hurdle dream live on?
The Nicky Henderson-trained We Have A Dream puts his unbeaten record in Britain on the line as he sets off on a road that could potentially lead to the Unibet Champion Hurdle.
The same bookmaker backs the £60,000 Grade 2 Elite Hurdle at Wincanton on Saturday in which the four-year-old faces six rivals, including his race-fit and high-class stablemate Verdana Blue.
We Have A Dream produced a dominant campaign last season, winning five consecutive races culminating with victory in the Doom Bar Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle at Aintree, his second Grade 1 success after the Finale Juvenile Hurdle at Chepstow.
Verdana Blue has already won twice this autumn, with an impressive success in a Listed hurdle at Kempton last month following on from a victory on the Flat at Chelmsford.
Henderson said on Friday: "Verdana Blue loves fast ground and We Have A Dream has come into the race because they've had the rain."
As for having two of his stable stars meeting so early in the season, he added: "I'm afraid they've got to meet, but it's a big prize."
We Have A Dream would be the one to benefit from further rain, which is forecast at the track. The ground on Friday afternoon was described as good to firm, good in places, but that is liable to change.
Clerk of the course Barry Johnson said on Friday afternoon: "We're due a band of rain through to around nine or ten o'clock tonight.
"We could easily get 10mm to 20mm and if we got 10mm we'd be plum good all the way round; any more than that and we'd be slightly easier. They're not going to get in deep, there's a lovely cushion to the grass covering."
What to make of returning If The Cap Fits?
Another horse lining up after remaining unbeaten last season is the Paul and Clare Rooney-owned If The Cap Fits.
Trained by Harry Fry, the six-year-old was impressive in three wins over hurdles last year before injury curtailed his season after victory at Kempton on Boxing Day.
Looking forward to his first run for 11 months, Fry said: "If The Cap Fits has been waiting to get started and with overnight rain the ground should be perfect.
"He was ruled out of the spring festivals last season through injury and we're looking forward to getting him back on a racecourse. He seems really well at home.
"He was three from three as a novice last year and we're out to learn a lot more about him."
Fry, like Henderson, is double-handed as he also runs Air Horse One who, like his stablemate, is making his seasonal reappearance.
The seven-year-old had a consistent profile last season before struggling in his first start at Grade 1 level in the Aintree Hurdle.
"Air Horse One is often too consistent for his own good," said Fry. "The two miles is a little on the sharp side and this is very much a starting point for him."
In the Grade 2 Rising Stars Novices’ Chase that precedes the Elite Hurdle, Fry runs recent winner Bags Groove.
He added: "Bags Groove won nicely at Ffos Las last month, where he put the experience of his chase debut in May to good use. If he can put in as good a round of jumping, hopefully he'll be hard to beat."
Does Redicean have the class for this level?
Alan King is optimistic Redicean can prove competitive after he made an encouraging reappearance at Cheltenham last month.
King said: "He looked very exciting last season, winning his first three races, including the Adonis Hurdle at Kempton, but he hated the soft ground in the Triumph at Cheltenham, which completely floored him.
"I could not have been more pleased with his comeback run at Cheltenham last month. He finished second to a race-fit winner, whom he was giving more than a stone to, so we're hoping he can build on that encouraging return."
The seven-runner field is completed by the Evan Williams-trained John Constable and the Robert Walford-trained Smaoineamh Alainn.
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