Regal Encore has only seen a racecourse on six occasions so far but has already established a growing reputation about being a high prospect for the future.
The J.P McManus-owned horse made his debut at the Cheltenham Festival 12 months ago when coming home second in the Champion Bumper, seven lengths behind Briar Hill.
He goes into the 2014 meeting as the ante-post favourite for the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle.
Regal Encore made his debut over hurdles at Aintree on October 26, where he went off as the 8/15 market leader to open his account. Although there was nothing much wrong with his performance, he was beaten by Garde La Victories who held Tony McCoy’s mount off in the closing stages at Aintree.
Connections of the Champion Bumper runner-up did not have to wait long for him to win over obstacles. He was successful at Plumpton a month later when as short as 1/9.
His third assignment of the season was at Hexham in December. The Anthony Honeyball-runner looked set to challenge two flights from home, but was unable to pull back Seeyouatmidnight who was the surprise 66/1 winner.
The horse does also have an entry in the Vincent O’Brien Country Handicap Hurdle, but the betting suggests it will be the penultimate race of the week which he will line up in.
McManus’ silks will also be carried by Alaivan in the Conditions Hurdle. The closest Jojno O’Neill’s runner has come from scoring this season was at Wincanton in January when he was second behind Quick Decision in a 2m handicap hurdle.
One of the most in form horses going to the race is Vieux Lion Rouge for David Pipe. The lightly raced five-year old has won his last three outings and scored on six of his seven career runs.