By Racinguk.com staff
Call Me Lord bids to earn himself a shot at Champion Hurdle glory in the Betway Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton on Saturday.
A multiple winner in France, Nicky Henderson's charge has won two Sandown handicaps and finished third at Huntingdon since touching down on British soil.
He received a hefty rise in the weights for his latest facile success in early January and connections expect to learn plenty about his potential aspirations by testing his powers at Grade Two level this weekend.
Anthony Bromley, racing manager for owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, said: "It looks like he has two serious rivals in Elgin and and Ch'Tibello, so we'll see how he gets on.
"He likes soft ground and a right-handed track, but he has only run in handicaps so far and he's in a Grade Two on Saturday, so he does have to step up.Call Me Lord, left, has impressed in Britain, despite the odd error (PA)
"It is a bit of a fact-finding mission as this will tell us whether we should be aiming for the Champion Hurdle or the County Hurdle at Cheltenham."
Elgin has already enjoyed a fantastic season for Alan King and the Elite Racing Club, winning a valuable handicap at Ascot before landing the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham.
He has not been seen in competitive action since finishing sixth in a Grade Three at Ascot just before Christmas, but King reports his charge to be firing on all cylinders at home.
"I think he deserves to take his chance. He has got a few pounds to find with Ch'Tibello and Call Me Lord, but I am looking forward to running him," said the Barbury Castle handler.
"I had the option of running him in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury last Saturday, but he would have been off top-weight and the ground was pretty awful, although it is not going to be that great this weekend, either. He has won on that ground, but I don't think he is at his best on it.Elgin "deserves to take his chance" says King (PA)
"All I can say is that the last couple of weeks he has thrilled me with his work. He is in great form and I think he has improved again.
"We have probably fallen between two stones in that he is handicapped out of winning a big handicap and is probably not quite good enough to win a championship race.
"We will learn a lot on Saturday and see where we are."
Dan Skelton's Ch'Tibello was beaten only a length by Yanworth in this race a year ago and was last seen pushing The New One all the way when the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained veteran claimed his fourth victory in the Champion Hurdle Trial at Haydock last month.
Skelton said: "Haydock is a hard place to beat The New One and he has won over £1million in prize-money. We were second to him, so it was a good run.
"He's got to take on Call Me Lord and Elgin this weekend and they are two very good horses, but I think he is just favoured on ratings and he was second in the race last year to Yanworth, so why not give it a go?"
Cliffs Of Dover was a prolific winner as a juvenile hurdler, winning six of his seven starts for Paul Nicholls.Cliffs Of Dover makes a belated return to action (PA)
However, he has been sidelined by injury since the most recent of those victories in the Summit Juvenile Hurdle at Doncaster in December 2016
"He won all those races last year. I've got to run him somewhere and he is in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham, but that won't happen - I would have thought he is more likely to run in the County Hurdle, then go to Ayr," said Nicholls.
"Literally the only race left for him is Wincanton and he has not run on this ground before. I would prefer better ground and I would be concerned about it."
The six-strong field is completed by the Nick Williams-trained Flying Tiger and Claire Dyson's rank outsider Cap'N.
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