Collier must dig deep against Trial rivals

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The Independent Online
Collier Bay will be confronted by high quality opposition when he races tomorrow for the first time this season. The champion hurdler faces a maximum of five rivals at Towcester but they seem certain to fully test Jim Old's seven-year-old who is likely to be ring-rusty after an absence of 11 months.

Tomorrow's pounds 6,800-added contest is the newly-instituted Champion Hurdle Trial, sponsored by The Sporting Life. The other entries include Relkeel, who was favourite for the 1995 Champion Hurdle but unable to run because of injury.

Jockey plans for Collier Bay are dependent on the outcome of Graham Bradley's appeal in London today against a two-day riding ban imposed at Leicester last month for careless riding. If successful, Bradley will be in the saddle tomorrow. If he fails, Jim Old, Collier Bay's trainer, must look elsewhere.

Old may be two-handed in the Towcester race as he has also entered the promising novice Juyush, unbeaten in his only two races so far over timber.

David Nicholson, who trains Relkeel, may also run Escartefigue. The sextet is completed by Nick The Beak, trained by John Upson, and Paul Nicholls' Storm Damage. The advance going is good to soft.