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Dell Arca to make amends for unlucky Ladbroke defeat

Melodic Rendezvous and Irving were the notable absentees at the final declaration stage for Saturday’s Betfair Hurdle at Newbury. Melodic Rendezvous will head to either Kelso or Wincanton while Paul Nicholls has decided not to risk Supreme Novices’ Hurdle hope Irving on heavy ground.

Nicholls still has a strong hand in the race with easy Ascot winner Irish Saint now joined by Triumph Hurdle runner-up Far West. Nicky Henderson’s Rolling Star now heads the weights on 11st 12lb as he bids to follow up last year’s victory with My Tent Or Yours.

Henderson also runs Vasco du Ronceray and Gibb River, the mount of Tony McCoy. Philip Hobbs relies on 2011 Champion Bumper winner Cheltenian who showed a glimpse of his old form when winning comfortably at Uttoxeter on New Year’s Day.

One of the best backed horses in recent days has been David Pipe’s Dell’ Arca, winner of the Greatwood Handicap on his first run for the stable in November. The handicapper raised him 8lbs for that victory and he was still in contention when an unlucky faller in the Ladbroke Hurdle at Ascot.

Tom Scudamore was yet to ask the horse a serious question when Recession Proof came down in front of him, causing his mount to swerve and unship his rider. The form has not worked out particularly well for either of those competitive handicaps but Dell’ Arca looks well treated with 10st 12lb.

Pipe also runs Swing Bowler who has not been seen since finishing down the field behind Quevega at the Cheltenham Festival. She appeared not to last home that day but is not out of it on her previous third in this race 12 months ago.

Alan King is another trainer to be doubly represented with Vendor and Montbazon both lining up on Saturday. Vendor is up 8lbs for his win at Newbury in November while Montbazon is attempting to overcome an absence of nearly two years.

The only remaining Irish-trained runner is Smashing, trained by Willie Mullins. Brian Ellison’s Totalize, a springer in the marker when pulled up in the Ladbroke, continues to attract each-way support and is the mount of in-form Aidan Coleman.