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Defending champion Arch Fire will attempt to add to trainer Robert Smerdon’s recent haul of Australian Hurdle wins.

Smerdon has won the race in four of the past six years starting with Black And Bent in 2010.

Kirribilli Gold won two years later before Westsouthwest was successful in 2013 and Arch Fire won last year when the race was held at Ballarat.

Acceptances for Saturday’s Australian Hurdle (3400m) at Sandown will be taken on Wednesday with Arch Fire and the Darren Weir-trained Gingerboy expected to be among the final field.

Smerdon believes Arch Fire is fitter for his recent runs but rates Gingerboy as the horse to beat after his convincing Galleywood Hurdle win.

“Arch Fire is in good shape but there’s always newcomers on the block and Weiry’s horse is the one who has had his measure comfortably in their first two encounters,” Smerdon said.

In between Smerdon’s three most recent Australian Hurdle victories, Weir won with Gotta Take Care in 2014.

Last year’s Grand National Hurdle winner King Of Dudes is among the 10 nominations.

The Australian Steeplechase is also on the Sandown card.

 
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