EUROPEAN record jumps purchase Magnus makes his much-awaited British debut in the Relkeel Hurdle at Newbury this afternoon.

Magnus was bought by Martin Pipe at the Goffs France Sales, held at Saint Cloud in November, on behalf of leading owner David Johnson for a whopping £340,000.

It's a pretty crazy sum to pay for a hurdler considering the paltry state of UK prize-money, but at least it didn't take long for the highly-rated five-year-old to begin to claw back a fraction of that hefty price tag by scoring at Auteuil shortly after the deal was finalised. Magnus has since crossed the English Channel and joined Pipe who issued a warning last week regarding the gelding's current state of fitness.

"He wouldn't be A1 yet as we have been very easy on him since his arrival from France," said Pipe.

At least Magnus has been set a relatively simple task taking on just four rivals for his first try on British soil, so in the circumstances he might be able to prevail despite not being 100 per cent fully wound up.

The Relkeel Hurdle plus the later £30,000 Bula Hurdle were both sensibly transferred from the meeting lost at frost-bound Cheltenham on Saturday.

The last-named contest is generally regarded as genuine Champion Hurdle trial and Hors La Loi III can stake his claim for the Cheltenham Festival showpiece by opening his account for the season.

James Fanshawe's classy six-year-old always takes his time to warm up, however the vibes from Newmarket concerning his well-being have been excellent over the previous couple of weeks.

Bangor kicks off with a Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle, just the sort of weak contest farmed so successfully in the past by a Norman Mason.

And the Brancepeth-based Permit Holder should not let the us down with Ulusaba (12.40), who on all known form has serious each-way claims. The five-year-old picked up a similar low standard event at Market Rasen and is sure to have come on significantly for a recent spin around Kelso.

The Wynnstay Room Handicap Chase over four-miles-and-one-furlong is definitely not a race for the faint-hearted.

Supporting the consistent yet exasperating Rockcliffe Gossip has been a painful process and his backers must have been blessed with exceptionally deep pockets.

Perhaps now is the time to replenish their bank accounts because devoid of basic speed he may be, none the less the one thing Rockcliffe Gossip can do effectively is gallop all day, albeit a snail's pace. Lingfield's polytrack surface continues to be the subject of rave reviews. It's therefore hardly surprising to see such huge entries for virtually all of the races staged at the course, a factor making easy picking for the bookmakers.

In an attempt to redress the balance in the punters' favour, try a bob or two on Garcon (12.20) in division 1 of the Littlewoods Handicap.