There could be a local winner in the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle that headlines the opening day of Cheltenham’s November meeting when Nigel Twiston-Davies unleashes Weveallbeencaught.
Pitched in at Grade Two level for his hurdling bow, the five-year-old is held in high regard by his team at Naunton Grange and was purchased for £210,000 following a taking victory in a Dromahane point-to-point in December of last year.
He went some way to justifying that lofty valuation when winning a competitive bumper on his rules debut at Newbury in the spring and the form of that race has a strong look to it, with the runner-up a winner over hurdles since and the third also showing ability over obstacles.
Now team Twiston-Davies are looking forward to finding out plenty about their charge at a meeting they have enjoyed plenty of success over the years.
"He’s a nice horse," said Nigel Twiston-Davies. "We think highly of him, and you’ve got to start somewhere and it’s a nice track. We’ll learn a lot more tomorrow."
Those sentiments are shared by his rider, the trainer’s son Sam, who told William Hill: "He’s a horse I’m really looking forward to riding.
"The form of his bumper win has been franked and his schooling at home has been really good. We’ve been wanting to get him out for a while, but the weather hasn’t really played ball and we’re happy to start him here.
"It looks a pretty strong race and we’ll know plenty more about him after this."
Jonjo O’Neill’s Collectors Item reopposes having finished half a length behind Weveallbeencaught at Newbury and has since accounted for a subsequent scorer on his hurdling bow at Chepstow, while vying for favouritism is Paul Nicholls’ Hermes Allen, a whopping £350,000 purchase who won with his head in his chest on his first start for the Ditcheat handler at Stratford.
"He hadn’t shown too much in his home work and surprised us a bit by the way he won so easily on his debut over hurdles at Stratford last month," the champion trainer told Betfair.
"While this is a much deeper race against some useful novices, he was successful in a point-to-point in Ireland a year ago and is going to make a lovely chaser in time.
"I’m hopeful of a big run from Hermes Allen who has woken up since Stratford and has improved."
There is a strong Irish challenge presented by Willie Mullins Hubrisko, who followed up an impressive win at Galway in September with a fair third in a Grade Three at Tipperary last month and is respected for powerful connections while Gordon Elliott brings across Music Drive, who was third over a furlong less here at the Showcase meeting last month.
Ben Pauling’s Getaway Drumlee was an odds-on winner at Hereford on stable debut and now steps up in grade, while the field is completed by Dan Skelton’s Quid Pro Quo, who was faultless following a year out in two novice hurdles in the summer but struggled to land a blow when sent off 7-4 for the Persian War at Chepstow.
"He’s had a run under his belt this season which will have sharpened him up a little," said Skelton.
"It’s a very similar race to the one he ran in at Chepstow and I think he’s a bit improved from there. So we thought we’d give it a go and it will tell us what we do for the rest of the year."