Lucky Max has risen from a mark of 96 to 136 with three consecutive victories in Ireland last year and heads to Lingfield for the £100,000 Sovereign Handicap Hurdle on Friday, live on Sky Sports Racing; Gowel Road, Hudson De Grugy and Metier among the opposition to Irish raider
Wednesday 19 January 2022 13:21, UK
Irish raider Lucky Max will bid to extend his winning streak to four on the opening afternoon of the Winter Million at Lingfield on Friday, live on Sky Sports Racing.
Sean Doyle's charge has been victorious in all three starts this season, with an October success at Clonmel followed by back-to-back triumphs at Cork.
Lucky Max's hat-trick has earned him a steep rise in the weights - starting from a perch of 96 to competing off 136 in the £100,000 Sovereign Handicap Hurdle.
Watch every race of the Winter Million from Lingfield live on Sky Sports Racing, January 21-23
"He's going to Lingfield on Friday, it's a great pot," said Doyle. "He's improved loads from race to race, his hurdling has got sharper.
"Lingfield is very like Cork - it's a grand, level track and he's best on level tracks so we're very excited about going with him."
The Sovereign Handicap Hurdle is the most valuable race on Friday's card and has unsurprisingly attracted a strong field.
Lucky Max is one of three Irish challengers along with the Emmet Mullins-trained pair of Carrarea and Sevenna Star, while the home team is headed by Harry Fry's Metier - last year's Tolworth Hurdle hero.
Gowel Road (Nigel Twiston-Davies) and Hudson De Grugy (Gary Moore) also feature in a 12-strong field.
Leading Irish jockey Paul Townend makes a surprise trip to Lingfield to ride Emmet Mullins' Carrarea, before potentially heading to Ascot on Saturday to ride Willie Mullins' Energumene in a mouth-watering clash with Shishkin in the Clarence House Chase, live on Sky Sports Racing.
Watch every race on Clarence House Chase day from Ascot live on Sky Sports Racing on Saturday, January 22 at 12.40pm
Love Envoi (Fry) and Nurse Susan (Dan Skelton) defend unbeaten records in the opening Winter Million Mares' Novices' Hurdle, while Rainyday Woman (Paul Nicholls) bids for a fourth successive victory.
Recent Exeter scorer Deja Vue (Anthony Honeyball) leads the way in the Winter Million EBF Mares' Novices' Handicap Chase - and Wetherby winner Eclair D'Ainay (Skelton) is at the head of the weights in the racehorselotto.com Handicap Chase.
An intriguing field of five runners are set to contest the £50,000 Cazoo Hurdle, with Nicky Henderson's On The Blind Side setting the standard on ratings.
The 10-year-old is taken on by Calva D'Auge (Nicholls), Dan McGrue (Brian Barr), Emitom (Warren Greatrex) and high-class staying chaser Top Ville Ben (Phil Kirby).
Fantastikas (Twiston-Davies) bids for a second course and distance win in the weatherbys nhstallions.co.uk Novices' Chase, with Broken Halo (Nicholls) chief among his opponents.
Top-weight The Edgar Wallace (Kim Bailey), Neil The Legend (Henderson) and Chambard (Venetia Williams) all merit consideration in the concluding Winter Million Handicap Chase.