There were a few glum faces after At Fishers Cross lost his unbeaten hurdling record when only fourth behind Celestial Halo at Newbury recently. The pair face each other again in Saturday's Ascot Long Walk Hurdle, but there are good reasons to expect a result reversal.
Change in ground condition – he needs it on the soft side – along with anticipated improvement from that seasonal debut and the return of AP McCoy, should make all the difference and makes him the weekend's best bet at around 11/10 or better.
Trainer Rebecca Curtis does not envisage defeat this time with only Celestail (9/4), as a serious rival.
At Fishers Cross jumped poorly under Barry Geraghty and never looked comfortable in his previous race, allowing Halo to make all on the faster terrain which suits the Paul Nicholls-trained gelding.
Cross then make a massive blunder at the second last when challenging, although it's doubtful he would have on that day. He should remove all doubts this time with the champion back in the saddle.
The Ascot meeting also features the Ladbrokes Handicap Hurdle, a race in which Nicky Henderson holds a strong hand with Rolling Star, Chatterbox and Snake Eyes.
His best hope is with the Star who won easily at Haydock last month.
However, each-way call is for David Pipe's useful Dell' Arca who got the better of Sametegal – also entered here – at Cheltenham a month ago in a Grade 3 race.
That was Arca's first British outing after finishing second at Auteuil behind talented Vukovar now with none other than Willie Mullins.
At odds of 10/1, Arca could well land some nice Xmas expenses.