Ptit Zig aiming for trial triumph
Daryl Jacob hopes to be back in the headlines for the right reasons with Ptit Zig in the Champion Hurdle Trial at Haydock on Saturday.
It was revealed last weekend that Jacob will not partner Big Buck's when the legendary staying hurdler makes his comeback next week, but the rider finds himself on the hot favourite in this Grade Two event.
Ptit Zig showed decent form as a juvenile last season but took it to a new level in France when he was second in a Grade One in June before returning to win at the highest level in November.
He showed he was still on an upward curve when finishing second in the Ladbroke off top weight and Jacob feels he has plenty going for him tomorrow.
"He absolutely loves soft ground, he showed that when winning a nice race in France," said Jacob.
"He was giving a heck of a lot of weight away to the winner in the Ladbroke, but the way he travelled that day just showed how much class he has.
"I thought that was a great run for such a young horse with that weight.
"He's stepping up in class now, but he'll have to with his rating, and the fact the ground is in his favour and we're going back left-handed will hopefully make him hard to beat."
Melodic Rendezvous started the season in fantastic fashion, winning the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton, continuing on from where he left off last season.
He was well fancied for the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle against My Tent Or Yours but ran a lifeless race and it later transpired he had picked up a little injury.
His trainer Jeremy Scott told At The Races.: "In reality he's probably just a little bit short of where we'd like him to be, but he seems to have got over that injury.
"We may lack for a bit of fitness, but there's plenty of time, so it would be nice to get a run into him now and another one in February and then see where we are.
"The main thing is to get him back safe and sound, have a nice spin round and hopefully have him sound for March."
Dr Richard Newland knows his Act Of Kalanisi faces a tough task but at least champion jockey Tony McCoy is in the plate and he goes there on a high having won his last two races.
"He's up against it on the ratings, but he's in good form and we were keen to let him take his chance," said Newland.
"The ground should be in his favour and there is some good prize-money for the places.
"I'm not expecting him to win, but hopefully he'll put up a good show."
Also running are David O'Meara's Ifandbutwhynot, winner of the Gerry Feilden earlier in the season, Colin Tizzard's Jumps Road and the Jimmy Moffatt-trained Morning Royalty.
Jumps Road picked up almost £14,000 when third at 100-1 behind The New One in the International Hurdle at Cheltenham last month, and Tizzard is hoping the seven-year-old can pick up some more prize money in this decent contest.
"Realistically we're just running for place money, but it's a nice race to run in and we're running to see what we can get," said the Dorset handler.
"He excelled himself at Cheltenham and we'll see if it was a fluke or not."