Kazlian to romp through the mud
Our horse by horse guide to Sunday's Racing Post Hurdle at Cheltenham.
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Talented but fragile individual who has only managed 15 career starts since making his debut in 2006. He scored on the last of those in April which was his first run for two and a half years so he can clearly go well fresh but a 14lb higher mark could be more problematical for all that he's still not badly treated on the pick of his old form and runs this track particularly well.
Smart Flat performer who took well to hurdles, winning twice and running respectably at Cheltenham and Aintree. He wasn't always fluent at his hurdles and minor mistakes at the last two flights on his reappearance possibly cost him victory against the smart Zarkandar in the Elite Hurdle. He'll need to jump better to win this for all that he's 4lbs well in after last Saturday.
Only 1lb higher than when beaten just over three lengths into fourth 12 months ago despite being hampered. Enjoyed a confidence boosting win over fences last month and has obvious each-way claims with his race-fitness assured.
Group Two winner in 2011 who hasn't matched that form during the latest Flat season as the years have begun to catch up with him. He has still run some fine races without winning and the handicapper has given him a chance on his first start over hurdles since February 2010 but it would be surprising if his younger rivals didn't have the legs on him.
Has finished in the money on 10 of his 14 starts over hurdles, winning four times. Represents respected connections but doesn't look obviously well handicapped and was beaten out of sight on the level - albeit in testing conditions - last month.
Cash And Go
Half-brother to his former yard's smart hurdler Catch Me and he has already achieved a decent level of form in bumpers and over hurdles. Disappointed in a Grade One novice when last seen but no surprise to see him bounce back with a bang for his new, in-form yard from a mark which he has the scope to leave behind.
Ran a fine race to finish a half length second to Menorah in 2010 before going on to finish a runner-up in valuable handicaps at Newbury and back at Cheltenham during the Festival. Ran well last month on his first start over hurdles since April 2011 and is on a fair mark on his old form but needs to bounce right back to his best.
Cause Of Causes
Closely related to 2003 Derby winner Kris Kin so he's certainly bred to be useful and he's been making steady strides over hurdles since falling on his debut in February. Reportedly blew up when winning narrowly at Fairyhouse so connections will expect him to improve from that run and has to enter calculations.
Has enjoyed a decent summer under both codes with his latest nose defeat over hurdles at the start of September boosted several times over by the progressive winner who has won three times over fences since. However, he is 8lbs higher and will need to take another step forwards to go one better.
Beat subsequent Listed Hurdle winner Hawkhill by 14 lengths at Cartmel in July and wasn't disgraced from a 10lb higher mark over this C&D last month. Open to further progress after just eight starts but doesn't obviously have the same scope as some of his rivals as he steps up in grade.
Listed placed on the Flat in France and progressed well in his first season over hurdles, winning two novice contests before finishing fourth in the Fred Winter. Better than he showed at Aintree on his final start of last term and open to progress.
Decent campaigner who usually performs with credit but he has struggled to get his head in front and has now gone 11 races without scoring after landing two of his first four starts. He's finished fifth and second in the last two renewals of this race, is fairly treated and should be on the premises once again.
Scored impressively on his British bow and was then put away for the Fred Winter with connections believing that the highly rated individual was on a very competitive mark. Inexperience cost him that day but his reappearance will have given them more cause for concern as he pulled up after racing keenly on testing ground. Questions to answer but not one to give up on yet.
One Cool Shabra
Hasn't gathered much dust since being sent hurdling with 20 starts under his belt already while he's also been active on the level too. Has been running respectably of late without doing anything to suggest he can be competitive here.
Smart Flat performer whose new connections were hopeful of him scaling the heights over hurdles only for him to disappoint when a well-backed favourite for the Imperial Cup and his County Hurdle run was little better. Had a breathing operation in the summer but he weakened quickly after travelling well on his return. Possible that he may just have needed the outing but others look more solid.
Up 7lbs for a very game beating of Bothy last month, having returned from a relatively fruitless spell on the level. Indeed, he has now won 11 hurdles races compared to just two on the flat (from 35 starts in that sphere) and no reason why he shouldn't run a brave race once more. However this is his first start outside of class three (or lower company) since 2006.
Seemed to enjoy his racing again when successful over hurdles at Navan last month, having been pulled up in the Irish National on his final start last season. Has form at the track, having been third to Salut Flo at the Festival, and, with the ground no problem, he should run well off a mark of 131.
Lightly-raced over the last two years but is on an upward curve, winning three of his six starts and finishing second on the other occasions. Authoritative victory here last time, albeit in a much weaker race, and looks a horse to follow despite an 11lbs rise in the weights. Trainer says he will go chasing after this run.
Application of a visor has reaped dividends of late, with two wins in Scotland, but handicapper has taken note, humping up his mark by a whopping 26lbs. Eight years old now and unlikely there's a tremendous amount of improvement to come, despite having found his niche at two miles.
Star Of Aragon
Now 10lbs higher than his last win over hurdles last December, but showed he has a race in him when a two-length fifth (off a 2lb higher mark) at Market Rasen in September. Should get the strong pace that he likes and not one to rule out off a nice weight with a promising young jockey booked.
80/1 and out of the handicap at Fakenham last time, which resulted in a 30 length defeat. Out of the weights once again here and needs to have his sights significantly lowered if he is to record a first win since July 2010.
The Tiddly Tadpole
Non-runner. Wouldn't have won anyway.
A race weakened by the absence of Darlan, and without him it might be worth siding with mudlark Kazlian who is open to plenty of progress this season for an in-form team.
Joint top-weightSnap Tie cannot be ruled out, having had this race as a target for some time, whilst Cash And Go is an interesting contender on his first start for Nicky Henderson since switching from Edward O'Grady's. Dark Lover looks the best of those at the bottom of the weights and is progressive, whilst stablemate Prospect Wells is quickly turned out after his decent Elite Hurdle run and is not ruled out either.