• Racing/
  • Whisky has Second Shot at Three Miles

Rewards4Racing Cleeve Hurdle (Grade 2) 3m

  • (5yo+, 3m, Class 1, 10 runners)
  • Winner £34,170 2nd £12,822 3rd £6,420 4th £3,198 5th £1,608 6th £804
  • Going: Heavy, Soft in places
  • Surface: Turf
Weighed In:
  • Winning time: 6m 32.20s
  • Off time: 15:35:31
Full result
Result 15:35 Cheltenham
Pos Horse Distance/th> Odds
1st 2 Reve de Sivola 15/8f
2nd 1 Oscar Whisky nk 2/1
3rd 10 Kentford Grey Lady 6 11/1
  • Last Updated: January 25 2013, 13:04 GMT

View from the connections ahead of Saturday's Rewards4Racing Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Oscar Whisky: Out to prove his stamina
Oscar Whisky: Out to prove his stamina

Connections of Oscar Whisky believe that the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham this weekend will conclusively confirm the horse's staying qualities.

The Nicky Henderson-trained eight-year-old is a dual winner of the Grade One Aintree Hurdle over two and a half miles and lines up at Prestbury Park unbeaten in two starts this season.

He has, however, yet to prove he is fully effective over three miles, having finished just fifth on his only start over that trip, in last season's Ladbrokes World Hurdle.

"He's in very good form," said owner Dai Walters.

"This is his key trial, and we'll know afterwards whether he's a genuine three-miler or not. Nicky has a lot of confidence that he is and he's the best horseman in the business.

"He just wasn't right in the World Hurdle when he last tried three miles - I think that was because he must have jarred himself when he fell at Ascot (in November 2011).

"There will be no excuses on Saturday.

"He's entered for the two races at the Cheltenham Festival.

"If it's very soft we could run him in the Champion Hurdle, but if it stays dry we'll go for the World Hurdle."

Reve De Sivola has already been there and done it over three miles, and was an exceptionally good winner of the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot in December.

The likelihood of testing conditions at Cheltenham has given owner Paul Duffy cause for further optimism.

He said: "Everyone who's entered for the World Hurdle at the Festival

seems to be going for it. He likes the going on the soft side and he should get that."

Walkon has this season finished second in the Paddy Power Gold Cup and the December equivalent at Cheltenham, but makes an interesting return to the hurdling ranks.

Trainer Alan King also fires a second shot across the bows in the shape of Lovcen.

The Barbury Castle handler told his website, www.alankingracing.co.uk: "There is nothing to lose and if it does not work out we can revert to chasing, but Walkon has been in great form again at home after his 42-day break, and he has already run two huge races at Cheltenham this season.

"We also run Lovcen, who switches back hurdling, having not enjoyed his two attempts over fences.

"He is a Grade One winner over hurdles, so he certainly has the class."

Kentford Grey Lady is the only mare in the race, with trainer Emma Lavelle keen to test the seven-year-old's credentials for the World Hurdle.

She said: "We gave her a speculative entry in the World Hurdle so she needs to run a nice race on Saturday to justify that.

"I don't think the ground will make that much difference to her - she doesn't mind a bit of cut.

"It wasn't the ground that beat her last time, it was the lack of pace as she is a stayer and she does tend to do a lot early on.

"It really doesn't suit her if it turns into a sprint.

"My feeling is that we would struggle to beat Quevega in the Mares' Hurdle. The World Hurdle, while still competitive, might be the better option."

Carruthers, the 2011 Hennessy Gold Cup winner, is another horse who reverts to hurdling.

He was last seen winning a small handicap chase at Ffos Las on Boxing Day.

Regular jockey Mattie Batchelor said: "He won well at Ffos Las as there had been a few things niggling him earlier in the season.

"If he'd got beat we'd have been scratching our heads.

"He's got his ground, it's three miles and he could run okay."

Knockara Beau finished second behind Grands Crus in the 2011 renewal of the Cleeve and has another go for the George Charlton team.

"He wasn't right the last time we ran him at Kelso," said Charlton.

"Somehow a couple of vertebrae in his neck got twisted, so you can discount that run.

"We really need to get a run into him so this was an obvious place to come.

"The plan is to give him a spin over hurdles and send him chasing somewhere after that.

"He'll love the ground."


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