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Khyber to pass on Trophy ahead of Champion Hurdle tilt

Nigel Twiston-Davies has decided to skip the totesport Trophy at Newbury on February 13 with Khyber Kim and head straight for the Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle.

The Gloucestershire handler appears to have finally found the key to the previously frustrating performer, and after winning the Greatwood Hurdle on his seasonal debut he lowered the colours of Celestial Halo in the boylesports.com International.

However, instead of possibly having a hard race with top weight, Twiston-Davies will go straight to the Festival with his eight-year-old.

"We've taken him out of the Newbury race," said Twiston-Davies.

"After a discussion with the owners, we thought he maybe didn't want a hard race a month before the big one.

"So now we'll go straight to Cheltenham and then we can maybe get him a bit busier and go to Aintree and things like that afterwards.

"He had always been better fresh until his last run so hopefully this means he is more consistent.

"He's fine but we are just going to hang on until the Festival with him and Imperial Commander."

With Khyber Kim and Al Eile both being taken out, Andy Turnell's Blue Bajan and Malcolm Jefferson's Cape Tribulation have been left at the head of the weights.

Nicky Henderson's ante-post favourite Spirit River remains a possible as does Gary Moore's Harry Tricker and David Pipe's recent Ascot winner Mamlook.

Pipe could also run Ronaldo Des Mottes and Mutual Friend while Philip Hobbs has left in his exciting novice Menorah.

Champion trainer Paul Nicholls has County Hurdle winner American Trilogy, Takeroc, Pepe Simo and Tito Bustillo engaged.

Howard Johnson's Red Moloney and Jonjo O'Neill's Get Me Out Of Here are others among the 45 that remain.

With previous ante-post favourite Stravinsky Dance, also from the Henderson yard, disappointing on Saturday and Khyber Kim an absentee, the betting has been shaken up a bit.

"A couple of high-profile disappointments over the weekend now see Spirit River head the market for the totesport Trophy and the complexion of the race has changed slightly now that Khyber Kim has been taken out," said totesport spokesman George Primarolo.

"The weights now go up 10lb which brings a host of horses into the race that may not have been considered before."

totesport Trophy -- sponsors bet: 6-1 Spirit River, 10-1 Harry Tricker, Menorah, Ronaldo Des Mottes, Get Me Out Of Here, Mamlook, 12-1 Stravinsky Dance, Notus De La Tour, 14-1 Fairyland, 16-1 American Trilogy, Pepe Simo, Save The Bacon, Tasheba, Tito Bustillo, 20-1 bar.