National glory the goal for Saphir

Saphir Du Rheu on his way to glory in the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle this season
Saphir Du Rheu on his way to glory in the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle this season
The sun ought to shine for Fontwell's Thursday afternoon racing

Irish raiders among the Fontwell fields

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Saphir Du Rheu is aiming to sign off his hurdling career in style by winning Fontwell’s richest race – the National Spirit Hurdle.

The five-year-old son of Al Namix has rattled off three consecutive wins since the beginning of December.

He will now go to post as the red-hot favourite to claim the Grade 2 feature race on tomorrow’s West Sussex card (3.10pm).

Paul Nicholls believes his contender will be at home in the muddy conditions expected at Fontwell.

He is gunning for another healthy pay day before sending his ace chasing next season.

And the gelding’s future is a mouth-watering prospect, according to the seven-time champion trainer.

Saphir Du Rheu won the Lanzarote Hurdle at Kempton in January – and it was after that Listed win Nicholls mooted the Fontwell battle as a target.

Nicholls has won the two-and-a-half-mile race twice in the past three years – with Celestial Halo in 2011 and Prospect Wells 12 months ago.

Last term’s second, Meister Eckhart, is back and aiming to spoil the party, though.

West Sussex trainer Gary Moore has never landed the race, which boasts Baracouda, Lough Derg and My Way De Solzen on its roll of honour.

But he will be hoping Chris Pea Green can get him off the mark.