Warren Greatrex has hailed Western Ryder as a ‘very exciting’ prospect as he makes his hurdling debut at Stratford this afternoon.
The five-year-old was a listed winner at Ascot in December, before posting a second place finish in a competitive running of Newbury’s Winter Bumper.
He was no match for Fayonagh in the Champion Bumper, but capped off a fine campaign when third in a Grade Two event at Aintree.
The son of Westerner takes on ten rivals in the British Stallion Studs EBF National Hunt Novices’ Hurdle (3:20).
"He was high up there with the best bumper horses last season and will go novice hurdling this season,” Greatrex said in his stable tour.
"He will start over two miles and go somewhere small to start with. He has done very well over the summer. Fingers crossed he turns into a good novice hurdler.
"He won a Listed race at Ascot. I then think he was unlucky as things went against him at Aintree and he had been on the go a long time.
"He was probably too far back at Cheltenham and he came up the wrong part of the track. If he can do that again and get to those meetings, there is nothing to say he won't be very exciting."
Henry Daly’s Honest Vic, Kim Bailey’s Blazon and Jonjo O’Neill’s The Flame all look to be the main dangers.
Ballyoptic was close to defeating Stayers Hurdle hero Unowhatimeanharry at Ascot last December
Elsewhere on the card, former Cheltenham winner Ballyoptic makes chasing debut for Gloucestershire’s Nigel Twiston-Davies in the Charlotte Cole Memorial Novices' Chase (3:50).
The seven-year-old, who was leading the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot last season before falling at the last, finished fifth on his last start in handicap company.
Cheltenham Festival fifth Starchitect also features for David Pipe. The six-year-old makes his first outing since finishing unplaced in the Silver Trophy.
Good Man Pat is expected to make a winning start in the opening Rio Gold Syndicate Maiden Hurdle (1:40).
Alan King’s four-year-old was an impressive winner as a pointer, and should improve on his most recent Exeter third.