Jonbon is the star name among 11 entries for the Sky Bet Supreme Trial Rossington Main Novices’ Hurdle at Haydock on Saturday.
Bought for £570,000 by owner JP McManus after winning an Irish point-to-point, the full-brother to the mighty Douvan has been faultless in three starts so far for Nicky Henderson.
The six-year-old made a successful debut under Rules in a Newbury bumper last spring and is two from two over hurdles – most recently dominating his rivals in Grade Two company at Ascot.
Jonbon is second-favourite behind stablemate Constitution Hill for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, with his best odds of 7-2 sure to be trimmed with another victory this weekend.
His potential rivals on Merseyside include the Harry Fry-trained Might I, who was runner-up to Constitution Hill at Sandown in December, and the unbeaten Donny Boy from Nick Alexander’s yard.
Another Irish point-to-point winner, the Westerner gelding has since impressed in a Kelso bumper and over hurdles at Newcastle.
Alexander said: “The Rossington Main is the plan. It’s obviously a big step up in class and who knows what will happen, but we’ll give it a go.
“We’re very excited about him, we believe in him and hopefully he’ll run well.
“It’ll be fine if Jonbon scares everything else away!”
Donald McCain could saddle wide-margin Sedgefield winner Richmond Lake, while Ballycoose is a potential raider from Northern Ireland for Stuart Crawford.
There are also 11 entries for the Grade Two Patrick Coyne Memorial Altcar Novices’ Chase, with McCain’s Minella Drama setting the standard on ratings.
Other hopefuls include Ben Pauling’s course scorer Shakem Up’Arry and Papa Tango Charly, who is two from two over fences for Jonjo O’Neill.
Tommy’s Oscar is the potential star on show in the New One Unibet Hurdle – a recognised trial for the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham in March.
Ann Hamilton’s charge has won his last three starts and will be well fancied to extend his winning streak on Saturday.
His six possible opponents include last year’s winner Navajo Pass (McCain) and Olly Murphy’s admirable veteran Hunters Call.
Royale Pagaille could defend his crown in the Peter Marsh Chase, with his 16-length demolition job 12 months ago earning him a tilt at the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
The eight-year-old was runner-up to A Plus Tard in the Betfair Chase here in November, but has been sidelined since after suffering an injury.
Royale Pagaille could face another Haydock mud-lover in Bristol De Mai, although Nigel Twiston-Davies has also given his triple Betfair Chase-winning grey an entry in the £150,000 Fleur de Lys Chase at Lingfield on Sunday.
Alexander is planning to run Lake View Lad, who was last seen finishing fourth in the Rowland Meyrick at Wetherby on Boxing Day.
“He’s come out of his Wetherby race very well,” the trainer added.
“He was was a little bit disappointing that day, but he got stuck for over an hour between the A1 and the racecourse stables. He got a bit hot and bothered in the lorry and I think that may have taken the edge off him a little bit.
“He’s fine now and he’s won at Haydock before. He’s beginning to look quite nicely handicapped if the years haven’t caught up with him too quickly and we’re looking forward to running him.”
Lord Du Mesnil (Richard Hobson), Lieutenant Rocco (Harriet Brown) and Remastered (David Pipe) are also in contention for the extended three-mile-one-furlong contest.