THE unbeaten Peddlers Cross, who boasts a 100 per cent record over the sticks, puts his growing reputation on the line at Haydock Park on Saturday.
The gelding holds an entry in the Grade Two Stanjames.com Champion Hurdle Trial. The six-year-old began his British career at Haydock Park in November 2009 and won again at the corresponding fixture last year.
Two months ago he claimed the scalp of the current Champion Hurdle hero Binocular, winner of the restaged Christmas Hurdle at Kempton on Saturday.
Saturday’s two-mile race, worth £50,000 in prize-money, is a key stage in the ‘Road to Cheltenham’ and is one of several races at Haydock Park that will offer clues to March’s championship races at the Festival.
Haydock Park’s managing director Dickon White said: “Peddlers Cross is very much regarded as a ‘local’ horse, and we will be delighted to welcome him back for his third race here. He’ll get plenty of support from our spectators on what is set to be a tremendous day of racing.
“Our races are not only important in their own right but will also provide plenty of pointers to the outcome of some of the major races at the Cheltenham Festival.”
As well as the Stanjames.com Champion Hurdle Trial, the races at Haydock Park on Saturday afternoon include the £50,000 Peter Marsh Chase.
It is exactly 30 years since the three-mile steeplechase was first run and the roll of honour includes four horses who went on to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup, plus Earth Summit who subsequently claimed Grand National glory at Aintree.
Maktu, sent off as the favourite for the Welsh National at Chepstow earlier this month, is poised to run in the Peter Marsh Chase and has winning form over this distance at Haydock Park.
The Pat Murphy-trained Maktu ruined his chance by pulling too hard in the Welsh National. The 2009 Welsh National winner Dream Alliance is entered too.
The afternoon at Haydock Park gets under way at 1pm with the Grade 2 Rossington Main Novices’ Hurdle, followed half an hour later by the Grade 2 Altcar Novices’ Chase. The afternoon also features the Betfair Graduation Chase.
Admission is £12 into the Tattersalls Enclosure and £24 into the County Enclosure. The Newton Enclosure is part of Tattersalls for this day.
Accompanied children aged under 18 enter free. Senior citizens and students, with appropriate identification, enter Tattersalls at half price.
Further information can be found at www.haydock-park.co.uk where tickets can be purchased or call 0844 579 3006.
Looking further ahead, Haydock is the next port of call for West End Rocker as he continues along the road to the John Smith’s Grand National.
Alan King’s nine-year-old showed plenty of stamina to land the totesport.com Classic Chase at Warwick on Saturday, just prevailing by three-quarters of a length from Minella Boys in a thrilling finish.
The Barbury Castle handler is now eyeing the totesport.com National Trial at Haydock on February 19 before heading for the Aintree extravaganza in April. King said: “He was always travelling and jumped great, and I thought it was a super run.”
King is planning a trip to Cheltenham with his other Warwick winner Call Me A Legend. He added: “She has come back well, having fractured a pelvis last year. She will go to stud at the end of the season but it would be a fairytale if she could bow out by winning the Grand Annual at Cheltenham.”