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Melodic Rendezvous ready for Elite Hurdle at Wincanton

Updated: Friday, 08 Nov 2013 15:54 | Comments

Melodic Rendezvous has lost just one of his four starts over hurdles
Melodic Rendezvous has lost just one of his four starts over hurdles

Trainer Jeremy Scott believes the outcome of the totepool Enter The Ten To Follow Elite Hurdle at Wincanton on Saturday will help determine how the rest of the season pans out for Melodic Rendezvous.

The sky looked the limit for the seven-year-old last season when he won the Grade One Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown and followed up by easily dismissing the highly-regarded Puffin Billy at Exeter.

However, that was in February and he never ran again after a virus laid low most of Scott's string in the run-up to the big spring meetings.

Despite giving weight away to all of his rivals in this Grade Two over two miles, Scott hopes Melodic Rendezvous will still take all the beating. If not, he will be sent novice chasing.

"All is well with the horse and hopefully the ground will be soft enough for him," said the Somerset handler.

"This race is going to tell us a lot about where we're going with him, but, at the same time, he needed his first run last season and I'm sure he will again.

"He's as well as we can get him at home, so we'll just have to see what happens on Saturday and take it from there.

"Hopefully he can be competitive off this mark. If he can't, then there is not much point carrying on over hurdles and we'll have to go novice chasing.

"Ultimately, I'll be happy either way."

The Elite Hurdle is one of the first opportunities last year's juveniles get to see how they fare against their elders.

And in the shape of the Paul Nicholls-trained Far West, one of the best of last year's crop takes the test.

Second only to the scintillating Our Conor in the Triumph Hurdle in March, he had previously looked very impressive, particularly when beating the six-year-old River Maigue at Ascot.

However, the last four-year-old to win this race was the exceptional Well Chief in 2003.

"It seems to have been a very long time since March, but we are really looking forward to it," said Dan Downie, racing manager for Far West's owners, the Axom syndicate.

"He did very little wrong last season. Obviously Our Conor looked exceptional in the Triumph, but he beat the rest of them.

"Also, there's a chance he could have been over the top because he was out very early last year.

"He showed a lot of speed at Ascot last season, which is why we are starting off here rather than looking at going up in trip. Also, Paul (Nicholls) knows exactly the type which suits this race and he was very keen for him to start off here.

"We were in two minds about going to France, but that would have been over further and in very soft ground.

"The rest of the season depends on how he performs this weekend and we'll see which route we take later.

"We hope he might come on a good deal."

Dr Richard Newland has a knack of improving horses bought cheaply from other yards and Ahyaknowyerself is the latest project.

No more than a fair handicapper when with Tony Mullins in Ireland, he has won five times since joining Newland and blitzed a decent field in a Market Rasen Listed handicap last time out.

"It is a big step up in class for him. He's gone up a lot in the weights and we're going to have to see if he is up to mixing it at this level," said Newland.

"He's on level weights with some established horses now. The handicapper put him up 19lb for winning at Market Rasen, so let's hope he's right.

"We need to find out whether he can still be competitive off this mark. I hope he can be, in which case we'll carry on over hurdles. If he shows he can't be competitive, then we could go novice chasing.

"This race will tell us a lot about which way we're going with him, so we'll see what happens on Saturday.

"I think the ground is going to be on the easy side of good, which shouldn't inconvenience him. It's just a question of whether he's up to it."

Another major player is John Ferguson's Cotton Mill, who had the class to finish second in the Betfair Hurdle on his first start last season and clearly goes very well fresh.

The Harry Fry-trained Karinga Dancer, who is chasing a five-timer, is another not to be ruled after he bolted up on his first outing this season at Aintree.

Fry was going to go novice chasing with the seven-year-old, but feels it is worth having a crack at this first.

Peter Winks' Ruler Of All and the Rebecca Curtis-trained Swnymor, also declared in the November Handicap at Doncaster on the level, which is his first preference, make up the field.

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