Benefficient pictured winning at Down Royal last time out
©Healy Racing Photos
The Tony Martin trained Benefficient faces five rivals in what promises to be an intriguing Grade 2 GPG Novices' Chase at Newbury on Thursday.
The six-year-old was a shock 50-1 winner of the Grade One Deloitte Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown last season and looks set to take high rank over fences judged on an impressive display at Down Royal last time.
Trainer Tony Martin admits he would prefer to be running his charge on better ground ideally, but he feels conditions in Berkshire may be more suitable for him than what he might encounter at home at the moment.
"It's a hot enough race but hopefully he'll put up a good show," said Martin.
"He's a horse who should stay well and we were very happy with how he won the last day.
"He's a better ground horse really, which is why we're travelling over with him.
"I know it's not going to be good ground, but it should be better than what we've got here."
Highland Lodge has been the apple of Emma Lavelle's eye for quite some time and having shown smart form over hurdles, he made a most impressive start to his career over fences at Towcester three weeks ago.
"It's one of those exciting moments and it's going to be very interesting to see what happens," said Lavelle.
"He came out of his race at Towcester really well and we're looking forward to seeing him run again.
"I hope he'll handle the ground all right. I can't believe it's not going to be tacky having been so wet and then dried out a bit, so it's going to be a big test of stamina."
The Evan Williams-trained Makethe Mostofnow scraped home on his introduction to fences at Ffos Las, but the Welsh trainer feels his seven-year-old will strip fitter for tomorrow's Grade Two test, which is registered as the Worcester Novices' Chase.
"He was quite lucky to win at Ffos Las, but I've just got the feeling he has improved a fair bit since then," said Williams.
"He improved quite a lot for his first run last year and I don't think the ground will be a problem for him, so we'll give it a go and see what happens.
"It's a good race. I'm quite aware we could finish last and still have run a good race, so we'll just hope for the best."
Kim Bailey's Harry Topper is also one from one over the larger obstacles following last month's victory at Exeter, but the trainer is annoyed he has had little option but to throw him into such a hot contest at this stage of his career.
Bailey said: "I'm happy with the horse, but he is still quite weak and he's still a baby and I would rather not be running him in a race like this.
"However, because of the novice chasing programme now there are hardly any races to run him in. There was one at Haydock last week, this one tomorrow and another one at Ascot and that's it between now and Christmas. I think it's totally wrong.
"Hopefully he'll handle conditions as he won in very soft ground over hurdles, but he's just one of those horses that will run until he drops. I actually think he'd prefer good to soft ground."
A high-class field is completed by Nicky Henderson's Hadrian's Approach and Houblon Des Obeaux from the Venetia Williams stable.