There are just 18 days until The Festival at Cheltenham gets underway, with the £125,000 G1 Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle the opening contest at 1.30pm on Tuesday, March 12.
Ahead of the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle, there is one final piece of the jigsaw to put into place with tomorrow's £30,000 G2 Sky Bet Dovecote Novices' Hurdle (3.00pm, nine runners) at Kempton Park. The two-mile contest forms the penultimate leg of Sky Bet's "Road To Cheltenham", the seven-race series which culminates with the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle at The Festival.
Heading the field at Kempton Park tomorrow is Angels Breath (Nicky Henderson/Nico de Boinville, 10/11 favourite with Sky Bet). The five-year-old is currently 5/1 joint-second favourite with Sky Bet for the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle following his very comfortable four and a half-length success in the G2 Sky Bet Supreme Trial Novices' Hurdle at Ascot on December 21. Angels Breath's Ascot success was his first start under Rules, with his only other appearance coming when winning an Irish point-to-point in April.
Henderson commented: "Angels Breath needs to learn to race.
"You are going to get a fast and furious race in the Supreme and all Angels Breath has done so far is go round in a six-runner race at Ascot and jump four hurdles.
"Angels Breath is being aimed at the Supreme and I am pretty sure he is a two-mile horse, although he could go either way (the gelding is also entered in the two mile and five furlongs Ballymore Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham).
"Dai Walters also owns Al Dancer (the current 7/2 favourite with Sky Bet for the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle), who was very impressive when winning at Ascot last week. He owns three-quarters of Angels Breath along with Ronnie Bartlett."
Henderson is also represented tomorrow by Daphne Du Clos (14/1). The six-year-old mare won a Listed bumper at Newbury in February, 2017 but missed all of last season. She returned to action at Huntingdon on January 25, finishing a staying-on fifth behind Scarlet Dragon (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson, 9/2).
Scarlet Dragon, a multiple G3-placed performer on the Flat, is a second-season novice hurdler and chased home Global Citizen when the nine-length runner-up in the 2018 Sky Bet Dovecote Novices' Hurdle.
Angels Breath and Scarlet Dragon are both entered in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle, along with Normal Norman (John Ryan/ Paddy Brennan, 50/1), Rouge Vif (Harry Whittington/Gavin Sheehan, 12/1) and Tokay Dokey (Dan Skelton/Harry Skelton, 14/1).
Normal Norman was last seen when winning a competitive handicap hurdle at Musselburgh on New Year's Day while Rouge Vif has won two of his last three starts, most recently scoring at Newcastle on January 29. Tokay Dokey comes into tomorrow's race having won all of his three starts so far - a bumper at Market Rasen in May and a pair of novices' hurdles at Uttoxeter in October and November.
Completing tomorrow's line up are Brecon Hill (Sarah Humphrey/Daryl Jacob, 33/1), successful on two of his last three starts and runner-up to the useful Brewin'upastorm in between his two victories, I K Brunel (Olly Murphy/Barry Geraghty, 14/1), a staying on third to leading Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle candidate Elixir De Nutz at Cheltenham in December, and Southfield Stone (Paul Nicholls/Harry Cobden, 10/1), who was third in the G1 Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown Park last month.
The going at Kempton Park is currently Good, Good to Soft in places.
Michael Shinners, Racing PR Manager at Sky Bet said: "We are all set for what looks a fascinating renewal of the Sky Bet Dovecote Novices' Hurdle at Kempton Park tomorrow.
"Angels Breath heads Sky Bet's market at 10/11 following his impressive victory at Ascot just before Christmas. He will be making only his second start over hurdles and is up against seasoned opposition from the likes of Scarlet Dragon and Southfield Storm.
"With just over a fortnight to go, tomorrow's contest is sure to provide significant late clues for the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle."
Sky Bet Dovecote Novices' Hurdle, Sky Bet odds: 101/11 Angels Breath, 9/2 Scarlet Dragon, 10/1 Southfield Stone, 12/1 Rouge Vif; 14/1 Daphne Du Clos, I K Brunel, Tokay Dokey; 33/1 Brecon Hill; 50/1 Normal Norman
Each way terms: 1/5 for first 3 places