Aikideau set for final call

Leighton Aspell will ride Aikideau
Leighton Aspell will ride Aikideau
Kris Spin won the Primo Bar & Bistro Barbados Handicap Hurdle / Picture: Nigel Bowles - Fontwell Park

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Aikideau will today take aim at Grade 3 glory.

Richard Rowe’s five-year-old is set to run in the EBF Novices’ Handicap Hurdle final at Sandown (2.05pm).

The French-bred son of Le Balafre booked his place in the contest with the first of two consecutive wins at Plumpton in January.

Now, with many owners and trainers setting their sights on Cheltenham Festival glory next week, the 128-rated hurdler is gunning for his hat-trick.

Aikideau is trained for popular owner Andy Stewart by Storrington handler Rowe and will be ridden by Pulborough jockey Leighton Aspell.

He will face 17 rivals in the two-mile, four-furlong showdown at Sandown.

Among those is fellow West Sussex raider Kuilsriver, who hails from the Findon yard of Nick Gifford.

Rated 122, the five-year-old son of Cape Cross is yet to snatch success but has finished second on four of his eight starts under rules.

Lower Beeding trainer Gary Moore withdrew his talented novice Grab The Glory from the final.

However, he has plenty of interest on the six-race card in Surrey.

Veteran Ballyfoy goes in the Mobile Betting At Handicap Chase (2.40pm).

And at 3.10pm, stable-mate Sire De Grugy will attempt to defy top weight in the Imperial Cup.

A close fourth to Champion Hurdle hopeful Zarkandar in the Grade 3 Betfair Hurdle last month, Sire De Grugy is now rated 147 and tops the 24-strong field.

Moore will also saddle Swift Lord in the race, with his youngest son Joshua taking 5lb off the seven-year-old’s burden.

Pascha Bere runs for the Gifford operation.

Joshua Moore is back in action in the final race – the Money Back Specials At Cheltenham Handicap Chase (5pm).

He will once again claim 5lb when he rides Panjo Bere.

The Cheltenham Festival will take centre stage when it gets under way on Tuesday.

Moore’s Fruity O’Rooney is currently a 25-1 shot for glory in the Grade 3 JLT Speciality Handicap Chase on day one.