ALAN FLEMING is praying Starluck will get the chance to go one better in the William Hill Christmas Hurdle at Kempton on Boxing Day.
His stable star failed by only a short head to catch Go Native at the Sunbury track 12 months ago and is reported to be in fine shape ahead of this year's renewal.
He warmed up for a second attempt at the Grade One when splitting Peddlers Cross and Binocular in the rearranged "Fighting Fifth" Hurdle at Newbury last month.
"Fingers crossed it goes ahead. The forecast looks better from Wednesday onwards, but with it being the King George meeting, I'm sure they will rearrange it if they have to," said the Dorking-based handler.
"We just need to get a gallop into him somewhere. This old weather breaks your routine up and knocks you back a bit, but he's good and fit.
"He only ran three weeks ago and he's been chipping away until the snow came.
"We've had the snow just a couple of days and our gallops have been fine until Saturday. We were off them today as well and hopefully we'll be back on them Monday or Tuesday."
Fleming accepts it will be no cakewalk with several Champion Hurdle aspirants expected in the line-up.
"It's going to be very competitive like any Grade One, but we'll be trying hard and hope for a bit of luck," he went on.
"You would have been quite impressed with his run at Newbury, but Binocular is going to improve, you've Khyber Kim coming into it as well and Overturn too. It's not going to be easy, it's going to be a damned good race."
Meanwhile, Freddie Tylicki is back riding out in Malton as his return to action from a major shoulder injury draws closer.
The champion apprentice of 2009 missed the vast majority of the Turf season after a fall at Musselburgh in June and needed pins inserted into the shoulder which he dislocated and fractured.
The German-born rider, who made such an impression for Richard Fahey's stable, has been cleared to return by his specialist.
"Things are going very well," said Tylicki. "I've actually been riding out at Mr Fahey's for the last couple of weeks.
"I've still got to see the physio a couple more times and there is still a bit of stiffness in the shoulder, so I've got to get past that first."