Two Festival attendees clash at Worcester on Thursday, as they both feature in a five-runner field in a 2m7f Novices’ Chase.
Nicky Henderson’s Birchdale makes his return to the larger obstacles after struggling on his first three chase starts over the last two seasons.
The seven-year-old unseated his rider at Catterick in November before finishing the last of six runners at Newbury in January.
The gelding bounced back in February when claiming third in a ‘Jumpers Bumper’ at Newcastle on the all-weather, before producing a bold effort to finish sixth over hurdles in the Coral Cup at the Cheltenham Festival.
A former recruit of Willie Mullins, she joined the Ditcheat trainer back in October and has experienced mixed fortunes over both hurdles and fences.
She failed to fire on her first two starts for her new trainer, but she showed a slight revival when finishing second in a mares’ handicap hurdle at Cheltenham in December.
The seven-year-old struggled when stepped up in class at Ascot and Warwick before heading to the Festival, finishing 11th in the Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle.
She bounced back to claim second in a Listed Mares’ Handicap Hurdle at the April Meeting at Prestbury Park but the mare failed to justify favouritism on her chase debut, finishing second of three runners at Fontwell.
Eglantine Du Seuil will be hoping to be second-time lucky over fences here but will need to prove she can deal with the step up in trip.
An interesting meeting between two promising sorts lies in wait at Worcester on Thursday afternoon.