Re shoots for Ascot prize
Donald McCain feels Ile De Re is nicely handicapped for the William Hill Priority Prices Handicap Hurdle at Ascot on Saturday.
The six-year-old improved out of all recognition on the Flat for McCain in the summer, winning the Chester Cup and Northumberland Plate at Newcastle.
Those victories in two of the most competitive staying handicaps of the season led to him being tried in Group company on his most recent outing on Champions Day at Ascot, but that task proved beyond him.
He now returns to hurdles and creeps in at the bottom of the weights having finished only 11th in the Imperial Cup for Ian Williams last season.
"He came out of the Ascot race well and has a great racing weight," said McCain.
"With the top horse (Starluck) running he gets in with 10st and then Henry (Brooke) takes another 3lb off, so he's running off a mark of 120 really.
"Fingers crossed, he runs a big race."
One-time Champion Hurdle aspirant Starluck shares top weight with the Alan King-trained Raya Star, winner of the Ladbroke and Scottish Champion Hurdle last season.
Nicky Henderson is represented by Cape Express, who won his fourth race on the bounce at Aintree last weekend, while Paul Nicholls runs Ted Spread, who was sent off 3/1 favourite for the Imperial Cup.
Claret Cloak, War Singer and It's A Gimme are others to note in the 15-runner field, in which Denis Hogan's Delphi Mountain is the sole Irish contender.