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Last Updated: 04/04/14 1:00pm
Melodic Rendezvous: Stepping up in trip on Saturday
Jockey Nick Scholfield is confident the step up to three miles will not be a problem for Melodic Rendezvous in the Silver Cross Stayers' Hurdle at Aintree on Saturday.
Jeremy Scott's stable star has enjoyed another fine campaign so far, winning the Elite Hurdle and the Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton, as well as clinching the Champion Hurdle Trial at Haydock.
The Champion Hurdle itself proved a bridge too far, with Melodic Rendezvous coming home seventh of the eight finishers, but Scholfield feels his mount will come into his own over longer distances.
He said: "It is a big step up for him, going up from two miles to three, but I have no worries about the trip.
"We could have run in the two-and-a-half-mile race on Thursday (Aintree Hurdle), but with The New One in there, we just felt this was the better option.
"I have always been of the opinion he would stay three miles in time. The rain hasn't arrived that was forecast, but I think the ground should be fine for him with the trip in mind.
"He beat Zarkandar in the Kingwell Hurdle and we take him on again, so we'll see what happens.
"This race will tell us a lot about where we're heading with him next season."
The Rebecca Curtis-trained At Fishers Cross, third behind More Of That and Annie Power in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle at Cheltenham, will be the likely favourite in the hands of Tony McCoy.
Curtis said: "I'm really happy with him, he seems in great form.
"He came out of the Cheltenham run really well and we're expecting a good run."
It has so far been a frustrating season for Zarkandar, winner of the Aintree Hurdle at this meeting 12 months ago.
Paul Nicholls' charge filled the runner-up spot on his first four starts of the campaign and finished fourth in the World Hurdle.
The Ditcheat handler also saddles World Hurdle ninth Salubrious, who is fitted with a first-time hood.
Nicky Henderson runs Coral Cup winner Whisper, while the only Irish-trained challenger is Willie Mullins' admirable grey Thousand Stars.
The 10-year-old has been placed in the Aintree Hurdle for the last three years and steps back up in trip on his return to the track following two disappointing runs over shorter distances this season.
Jockey Paul Townend said: "He's gone for the Aintree Hurdle a couple of times and never won it, but he's always run a big race there.
"He was disappointing the last day, but he seems to be coming back to himself and if it (Aintree) lights him up again hopefully we can nick a bit of prize-money."
The seven-runner field is completed by Sandy Thomson's outsider The Knoxs.