Buzz leads a group of nine runners declared for the Howden Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot on Saturday, live on Sky Sport Racing.
Nicky Henderson’s team scored a hat-trick after winning the Cesarewitch at Newmarket and Coral Hurdle at Ascot this fall and testing the water over three miles for the first time this weekend.
Henderson also rides Champ, who returns to smaller hurdles in his first competitive appearance since being stopped in the Cheltenham Gold Cup nine months ago.
On The Blind Side, who filled in second place in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury three weeks ago, is a third runner for the Seven Barrows team.
Also in contention are Olly Murphy’s Long Distance Hurdle winner Thomas Darby, third house in Paisley Park and fifth Oscar in Lisnagar.
Paisley Park, formed by Emma Lavelle, is aiming for Long Walk’s third success after triumphing in 2018 and overcoming a thrilling battle with Thyme Hill 12 months ago.
Thyme Hill, coached by Philip Hobbs, renews the rivalry with Paisley Park, but needs to recover from a disappointing run in France.
Irish hopes are carried forward by Matthew Smith’s Ronald Pump, who came second to the brilliant mare Honeysuckle in Hatton’s Grace at Fairyhouse for the second consecutive year last month.
Hughie Morrison’s outsider Third Wind completes the lineup.
Ascot’s old Regal is back for more; Gosen faces 13
Cloth Cap and Regal Encore lead the way for the £ 70,000 Howden Silver Cup Handicap Chase.
The Regal Encore trained by Anthony Honeyball, who will officially turn 14 in two weeks, is aiming to win the race for the third time after victories in 2016 and 2019.
Belami Des Pictons (Venetia Williams) and Grand Sancy (Paul Nicholls) are other great hopes.
A total prize pool of £ 105,000 is up for grabs for the final Betfair Exchange Trophy, with Gary Moore’s Goshen leading the weight on his handicap debut.
His 13 rivals include Dan Skelton’s Greatwood Hurdle winner, West Cork, Henderson’s third Greatwood No Ordinary Joe, and Onemorefortheroad, who is on a four-timer for Neil King.