A small but select field of five go in the Listed 2m Matchbook VIP Hurdle at Kempton on Sunday (16:25).
Silver Streak brings leading form claims into the race now eased in grade and goes well fresh.
Trained by Evan Williams, the six-year-old grey gelding took his form to a new level last season when landing the ultra-competitive Grade 3 Swinton Handicap Hurdle at Haydock going away by three-quarters of a length.
After a summer break and following-up in the Welsh Champion Hurdle at Ffos Las, connections were dreaming big with Silver Streak. He then ran some massive races in defeat in even hotter races.
The son of Dark Angel went down by just a neck to Nietzsche in the Grade 3 Greatwood Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham when conceding almost two stone in weight and allowances.
He was far from disgraced when chasing home Brain Power in the Grade 2 International Hurdle at the same venue the following month. Silver Streak filled the same spot behind Global Citizen in the Champion Hurdle Trial at Haydock.
Come the Cheltenham Festival, he wasn’t fancied and sent off at 80/1. Silver Streak belied those massive odds when keeping on past tired and beaten horses to finish third in the Champion Hurdle to the ill-fated Espoir D’Allen.
It was a massive performance and one which sets a clear standard in the context of this lower grade affair.
As his stamina was stretched by the 2m 4f trip of the Grade 1 Aintree Hurdle last time out, a line can be put through that effort from Silver Streak.
An official 154 rating puts him top of this field. Silver Streak, who isn’t penalised like his main market rivals, thus looks well worth a wager at 11/10 with Betfair here.
Itchy Feet a bigger Matchbook VIP Hurdle danger than Grand Sancy
The horses that finished first and second in the Listed novices’ hurdle over course and distance 12 months ago re-oppose in open company here.
Itchy Feet is taken to confirm that form with Grand Sancy, because he meets his old rival off 4lb better terms.
This Olly Murphy trained five-year-old completed a hat-trick on this card last year after earlier landing a Stratford bumper and his bow over hurdles at Southwell.
Itchy Feet was then far from disgraced under a penalty when chasing home subsequent Grade 1 winner Elixir De Nutz in a Supreme Trial at Cheltenham.
He was then a fine five-length third in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle itself during the Festival.
Although then a below par fourth in the Grade 1 Top Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree, it was his sixth run of a busy campaign.
Itchy Feet now returns to a sounder surface on which all of his three career wins have come.
He carries a half-penalty for that Listed novice success here which leaves him with 6lb to find on Silver Streak on adjusted ratings.
Itchy Feet, who is 9/4 with SportNation for the Matchbook VIP Hurdle, does come out 2lb ahead of Kingwell winner Grand Sancy, however.
Paul Nicholls’ runner carries a full penalty for that Grade 2 success at Wincanton. Despite scoring on four of his eight starts last season, Grand Sancy is zero from two in battles with Itchy Feet.
This is also likely to be the five-year-old son of Diamond Boy’s last hurdles run before he goes novice chasing.
Off 4lb worse terms from here and when finishing down the field in the Supreme, Grand Sancy has it all to do if he’s to turn the tables.
Loughouse Sale can bounce back
Earlier on the Matchbook VIP Hurdle card is another Listed event for novice hurdlers over 2m (15:20), and progressive sort Loughouse Sale looks well worth forgiving his last run for the Skeltons.
Owned by Paul and Clare Rooney, the five-year-old son of September Storm won all seven of his previous starts under rules.
Loughouse Sale cleaned up in bumpers with victories at Market Rasen, Uttoxeter and Fontwell.
Following those exploits in National Hunt Flat races, he made the transition to hurdles with a hat-trick over timber.
Impressive wins at Ludlow, Warwick and Ffos Las punched his ticket to the Listed 2m Summer Handicap Hurdle.
The rapid progress made by Loughouse Sale meant he carried top-weight in that Market Rasen feature contest, however.
He faced an impossible task giving over two stone in weight and allowances to the winner, Grapevine, when beaten 23 lengths and finishing down the field. This is easier than a competitive handicap like that.
Loughouse Sale meets the re-opposing fourth horse home, Cardigan Bay, off 12lb better terms. He has to give that mare a sex allowance here still, but it gives him a chance of turning the tables.
Dan Skelton’s stable continues to send out winners, so Loughouse Sale can put that one career blemish behind him and resume winning ways at 9/4 with Betfred in this.
Cardigan Bay and Pacify feared most
The aforementioned Cardigan Bay has less to find than the 15lb ratings difference with Loughouse Sale if the Summer Handicap Hurdle form is taken literally.
This Charlie Longsdon trained six-year-old mare won two of her five starts over the summer. The first of those was a handicap at Southwell and she also scored in a novice event at Warwick last month.
Although she now meets Loughouse Sale on 12lb worse terms from Market Rasen, that rival has around 19 lengths to find. Cardigan Bay getting that 7lb sex allowance is key here.
While this demands more from a daughter of Turtle Bowl who has had a busy 2019, she is a potential each-way play against the fancied horse at 11/1 with William Hill at Kempton.
Pacify, meanwhile, is unbeaten since joining current trainer Jamie Snowden and another obvious contender for Listed honours here.
The seven-year-old is four from four over hurdles and had an extensive Flat career when in the care of Ralph Beckett.
Pacify won a maiden hurdle at Southwell, before readily following-up at Uttoxeter. He then bolted up by 30 lengths at Newton Abbot and completed the four-timer at Stratford.
The son of Paco Boy has really taken to hurdling and, although more is needed here, Pacify is another danger at 6/5 with Coral to Loughouse Sale.