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Punjabi team target Haydock Trial

Connections of Punjabi hope to run last year's Champion Hurdle winner at Haydock on Saturday week.

They feel the sportingbet.com Champion Hurdle Trial at the Merseyside track will suit the Nicky Henderson-trained seven-year-old.

"Nicky Henderson told me earlier in the week that he much prefers next Saturday's hurdling option -- Haydock's Champion Hurdle Trial," Tony Stafford, racing manager to owner Raymond Tooth, said.

"Class One jumps winners are penalised 8lb with half penalties for winners of novice Class One races. Haydock would seem an ideal track for Ray Tooth's star, level and with a decent run home.

"Punjabi's last win, apart from the Champion Hurdle, came over the very similar Wetherby track in the re-routed 2008 wbx.com Fighting Fifth Hurdle."


A run this time would be ideal for Punjabi, who was fourth to Khyber Kim in the Boylesports.com International Hurdle at Cheltenham on his first start of the winter campaign last month.

He also holds an entry on the provisional bumper card at Kempton on Saturday should the jumps meeting there be lost, but that has all been ruled out.

"The option for Punjabi would be helpful in the regard that he would maintain fitness levels in the event of further disruption next week," Stafford added.

"But two obvious snags accompany such a move. First would be the race distance of two miles -- he has never raced beyond a mile and a half on the Flat.

"The second difficulty would be that certainly Celestial Halo and Blue Bajan carry existing Flat-race ratings above 100, while Punjabi was raised to 92 after a gallant defeat of Mad Rush at Newmarket in the spring of 2008."