Cheltenham Tips Stan James Champion Hurdle


Cheltenham Tips Stan James Champion Hurdle

Yanworth is the one to beat in this year’s Champion Hurdle says the Oddsguru

Stan James Champion Hurdle 2m 1/2f Cheltenham Tuesday – First run in 1927, when the winner, Blaris, pocketed the princely sum of £365 for his effort, next Tuesday’s victor will improve his or her owner’s bank balance, by a cool quarter of a million pounds. It has been a fairly punter friendly event over the last twenty years, with only four winners returning an S.P. Longer than 10/1, and indeed the “Jolly” has come home in front on three of the last five occasions. Willie Mullins has won four of the last six renewals, but Nicky Henderson remains one in front of him with five wins. Indeed Henderson could claim the overall, and outright title if adding another victory, which would put him one in front of the great Peter (Night Nurse, Sea pigeon, Saucy Kit) Easterby.


This year’s renewal looks a pretty open affair, and the stats strongly suggest, that whatever passes the post in front on Tuesday, will have won his penultimate race, and that won’t have been run more than seven weeks prior to the big day. The winner is also unlikely to be older than eight as only four in that age group have won in the last thirty five years. Strong festival form has been essential with fifteen of the last eighteen winners having won or been placed at the previous year’s meeting.

It is obviously a strong contest for trends and the one with the best fit this year is the Alan King trained Yanworth. The exciting 7yo has won seven of his eight starts over hurdles, five of them at Graded level, and but for Barry Geraghty steering such a wide course in last years “Neptune” he might well have a 100% record. Despite travelling considerably further than the rest of the field he was only beaten 1 3/4L by Yorkhill in that 21f contest. However he has won all his three races since, admittedly in more workmanlike than spectacular fashion, but on tracks that didn’t play to his strengths. He will be well served by the return to the the stiffer Prestbury Park course, and reported by previous winning trainer King, (Katchit 2008) to be in tip top condition, looks the one to beat.


A successful breathing operation won’t harm Ch’Tibello’s chances

Dan Skelton’s 6yo Ch’Tibello gave Yanworth plenty to think about last time in the Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton, when, in receipt of 4lbs, he made Alan King’s horse work for his 1L success. Connections felt that he wasn’t finishing off his races and has had a breathing operation since, which has been pronounced a success, so improvement can be expected. He looked a really talented individual when winning last year’s Scottish Champion Hurdle, and a Grade2 at Haydock in November, where he had last year’s runner up, My Tent Or Yours 4 1/4L back in third. In the hands of master trainer Skelton, guided by uber shrewd owner, Ian Marmion, it will come as no great surprise to see him involved at the business end on Tuesday.

The Henry De Bromhead trained Petit Mouchoir has looked a very progressive animal this season. He was going as well as anything when coming down at the third last in the Grade1 Fighting Fifth at Newcastle in November, and showed there were no ill effects when five weeks later he beat the 2/5 hotpot Nichols Canyon by 7L in a Leopardstown Grade1. A month later he notched up a second Grade1 (Irish Champion Hurdle) when holding on well to beat Tuesday’s opponent Footpad (rec 2lbs) by a length. Clearly progressive he is now rated within 4lbs of Yanworth, is owned by the Gigginstown Stud operation and comes from a stable having a great season so has to be on the shortlist.

If last year’s winner of the Mares Novice Hurdle at the Festival, Limini, is supplemented for Tuesday’s contest, she would be worth considering, as she would be following in the footpath of last years Heroine, stable companion, Annie Power. Following Cheltenham, Limini was placed in her next two races, both at Grade1 level, and was retired for the season. Having her first run for nine months she pleasantly surprised trainer Willie Mullins when easily beating 2/5 fav Apples Jade on Febuary 22nd. Connections feel that she is still on the upgrade and in receipt of that 7lbs mares allowance has to be considered a threat to all.

The Nicky Henderson trained Buveur D’Air has had an unusual preparation for a Champion Hurdle aspirant, winning a couple of small field Novice Chases and a listed Hurdle at Sandown thirty eight days ago. However the 6yo did finish third in last year’s Supreme Novices, and went on to take the Grade1 Novices Hurdle at the Aintree Festival so is not without hope of providing the Master of Seven Barrows with a sixth champion Hurdle.

Selection: Yanworth

E.W.         : Petit Mouchoir

Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle Tips

Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle (Swinton Hurdle) 1m 7 1/2f Haydock Saturday

Last week’s selection in the 1000gns, Lumiere, ran no sort of race, and looked as if she didn’t stay, but fortunately, our E.W. selection, Alice Springs ran a super race to finish 3rd at odds of 16/1. She has grown into a big impressive looking filly and with her pedigree is certainly one to keep in mind when tackling further. (The Irish Oaks?)

We are back over the sticks this week with a look at the Swinton Hurdle and it looks a wide open contest.

Philip Hobbs, who has won the race twice before, (including last year) has three entries and at the time of writing the two to concentrate on are last year’s hero, War Sound, and Wait For Me. The former took last year’s renewal off a mark of 140 when a well supported 6/1 chance but is now 8lbs higher, and hasn’t run since finishing down the field at Newbury on heavy ground in mid February. Saturday’s ground should be much more suitable, and it is a race where previous winners have performed well on their return, so his chance is respected.

Wait For Me ran a fine race in The County Hurdle at the Festival for a novice, having only his fourth run over the smaller obstacles. Backed in to 7/1 joint favourite from 11/1 on the day, he was held up towards the rear, crept into the contest, and stayed on to finish 4th. The hurly burly of Saturday’s contest should hold no fears for him, and off the same mark as Cheltenham, has a lot to recommend him.

Welsh maestro, Evan Williams has also trained the winner twice, in 2014 and 2013, and indeed his 2013 winner Barizan was placed 2nd last year. It would seem that Williams targets the race so his contender John Constable is of special interest. This decent flat racer, (rated92) put up an eye catching performance on only his third run over hurdles at Newbury last November. In a Class1 handicap he finished 2nd to Sternrubin and had Saturday’s opponent, and likely favourite Ch’tibello five lengths back in third. John Constable has disappointed in his two subsequent races but the yard has been badly out of form. He now meets Ch’tibello on 3lbs better terms than Newbury, and as the stable has had a winner this Tuesday he’s one to keep on the right side of.

The Paul Webber trained 5yo novice Gwafa was taking a huge step up in class when contesting the Grade1 novice hurdle at Aintree but was badly hampered at the 4th and unseated his rider. He had won his two previous races very easily at Fakenham and Huntingdon,so this 92 rated flat racer may have got in lightly off a mark of 137 and is worth a second look.

Paul Nicholls has never won the race but seems to be making a serious attempt with three runners this year. His 5yo, All Yours, probably represents his best chance of correcting this particular blot on the Nicholls C.V. The winner of the Grade1 novices event at last years Aintree festival, (April 2015) he has had a very easy time of it since, running only twice. He was a well beaten 5th behind stablemate Irving at Wincanton in November, and wasn’t seen again until running in the County Hurdle in March where he ran better than his finishing place of 12th would indicate. Well suited by a flat track and reasonably treated off a mark of 145 it will come as no surprise to see him involved at the business end.

Robert Stephen’s 5yo Beltor has attracted some interest in the market and actually beat All Yours easily on only his second race over hurdles, at Kempton 14 months ago. His two subsequent efforts, in the 2015 Triumph Hurdle, and the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle last November, have been disappointing and I just wonder does he need to go right handed.

The other trainer who can boast two previous wins is Nicky Henderson and his 7yo Cardinal Walter, despite failing to hit the back of the net for 14 months is interesting. His win in a novice hurdle at Doncaster in Febuary 2015 was achieved with consummate ease and his 3rd to Saturday’s opponent Shrewd at Musselburgh this Febuary was a pretty decent effort. He meets the winner on 14lbs (excluding Shane Shortalls 5lbs claim on the winner) for the 2 3/4L beating and as his jumping wasn’t the most fluent things could be a lot closer between them on Saturday.

Dan Skelton runs his Scottish Champion Hurdle winner, Ch’tibello and he must have a serious chance off just a 6lbs higher mark. At Ayr he showed a great change of gears between the bypassed third, and second last flights, and despite a mistake at the last the result was never in doubt. This was his first run for five months so further improvement can be expected, and with Saturday’s ground likely to be even more suitable he has an awful lot going for him.

Selection : Ch’tibello

E.W. : All Yours