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Celestial Halo set for World Hurdle prep at Haydock

Andy Stewart is looking forward to seeing Big Buck’s attempt a record fifth triumph in the World Hurdle at Cheltenham next month but he also has a second string to his bow in Celestial Halo. The consistent gelding has been a stable star since winning the Triumph Hurdle in 2008.

He was only just beaten by Punjabi in the Champion Hurdle the following year and has since gone on to prove himself one of the top stayers in the country. He carried the famous Stewart colours into second place last year in the World Hurdle and is on course to run in this year’s race.

Celestial Halo carries 11st 12lb in tomorrow’s Grade 2 Rendlesham Hurdle on his return from a foot infection. Mickie receives 15lbs from the top weight while Seeyouatmidnight is seeking a fourth straight win.

The action kicks off at 1.45 with the Victor Ludorum Hurdle, a recognised trial for the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham. Aurore D’Estruval is likely to be a warm favourite after cruising clear to win by 13 lengths at Wetherby.

The Grand National Trial is the feature race at 2.55 with the bookmakers struggling to establish a clear favourite. Hawkes Point looks certain to play a leading role for Paul Nicholls after his fine second in the Welsh National and is narrowly preferred to Merry King.

There has been plenty of support for David Pipe’s Our Father but he has disappointed in the past and this is likely to prove a real test of stamina. Well Refreshed revelled in the mud to win by ten lengths a year and will be a threat to all if he is in the same sort of form on Saturday.

The Pertemps Hurdle series continues at 3.30 with Jonjo O’Neill’s lightly-raced Flemenson joining stable companion Open Day in a strong field. Flemenson is one of five last time out winners in the field including the lightly weighted Horatio Hornblower.

Oscar Rock has not quite lived up to expectations and could again have a fight on his hands in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at 4.05. Toubeera and Wuff are both seeking a hat-trick of wins and Copper Birch was very impressive at Ffos Las over this trip.

Selections: 1.45 Aurore D’Estruval, 2.20 Celestial Halo, 2.55 Hawkes Point, 3.30 Flemenson, 4.05 Copper Birch, 4.35 Dungeel, 5.05 Always Right