Peddlers Cross tops Haydock hopefuls
(Healy Racing Photos)
The 2011 Champion Hurdle runner-up switches back to the smaller obstacles after a mixed campaign over fences last season.
Well beaten on his final start in the Jewson Novices' Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March, Peddlers Cross is ready to return to action.
Trainer Donald McCain wants to get the horse started as soon as possible and has given him an entry in the Keltbray Holloway's Hurdle at Ascot, also on Saturday, just in case Haydock falls to the weather.
It is likely Peddlers Cross would face strong opposition at the Merseyside track headed by Grandouet.
Nicky Henderson's charge made a fine return to action after a year on the sidelines when second to Zarkandar in the stanjames.com International Hurdle at Cheltenham in December.
The John Quinn-trained Countrywide Flame, so impressive when winning the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle but only fourth in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton, may try to get his Champion prospects back on track.
Raya Star, runner-up to Darlan in the Christmas Hurdle, represents trainer Alan King along with Balder Succes.
Irish trainer Charles Byrnes has put in Solwhit, although the nine-year-old is more likely to stay nearer home for the Limestone Lad Hurdle at Naas, also on Saturday.
Paul Nicholls could step Dark Lover up in grade after his emphatic success in a Cheltenham handicap hurdle last month while Sue Smith's Mwaleshi completes the list of possibles.
Generous, the champion three-year-old of 1991, has died at the age of 25. The Paul Cole-trained colt took his three-year-old campaign by storm, winning the Epsom Derby by five lengths, the Irish Derby by three lengths and the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes by seven lengths. He stood at Alfred Buller's Scarvagh House Stud in Northern Ireland for over eight years. "He was unbelievably intelligent for a horse, kind and truly regal," Buller said. "He will be sadly missed and, to all involved with him, it has been a privilege to have cared for him and looked after him during his last period of life." Owned by Prince Fahad Salman, the son of Caerleon was ridden to his three major three-year-old victories by Alan Munro, but the partnership ended in defeat in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe that October. Generous was also a top juvenile, springing a 50/1 surprise in the Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket in October 1990 under Richard Quinn before finishing fourth in the 2000 Guineas on his seasonal return. Buller said: "He was a special horse. You have never seen a kinder and more likeable animal. "He got fan-mail and Christmas cards, even up to this year, and the guy who looked after all his fan-mail used to send out wee bits of hair from his tail in a plaque as a souvenir. "There are other stallions, all of whom were champions in their own way, but there was only one Generous." Munro said: "I'm very saddened by the news. "He was a very good horse."