Totalize will bid to bounce back from his Ladbroke Hurdle disappointment in the concluding £25,000 Steel Plate And Sections Handicap Hurdle (4.10pm, 17 entries) over two miles and a furlong at Cheltenham on Festival Trials Day, Saturday, January 25.
The five-year-old was well-supported in the build-up to the Ascot showpiece, but was toiling from a long way out and eventually pulled up before the penultimate hurdle.
Brian Ellison’s charge had finished sixth on the Flat in the 14-furlong Movember Handicap at Leopardstown in November, following a decisive two and a quarter length success in a 10-furlong handicap on heavy ground at Pontefract in October.
Prior to his run at Ascot, he had not been seen over hurdles since last year’s Cheltenham Festival, where he finished an unlucky fifth in the Grade Three Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle won by Flaxen Flare.
Ellison reported: “Totalize seems fine at the moment and will probably run in the Steel Plate And Sections Handicap Hurdle.
“His run in the Ladbroke was too bad to be true. We will put the hood on again at the weekend, but I don’t think that was the reason for his run at Ascot.
“He was flying before that and had been running well on the Flat in the autumn, so hopefully he can put the run behind him.
“On his Fred Winter form, he is on a nice mark and loves soft ground – everything by Authorized loves soft ground – so conditions should suit him.”
The 17 entries are headed by Grade One winner Ruacana (John Ferguson) and exciting novices’ Amore Alato (Nick Williams) and Sgt Reckless (Mick Channon).
Nicky Henderson has entered the unexposed pair of Karazhan and Snake Eyes, while course scorer Lac Fontana (Paul Nicholls) and Ubaltique (Donald McCain), who is chasing a three-timer, are also engaged.