David Ord's horse-by-horse guide to Sunday's Unibet Greatwood Hurdle ends with a very long shortlist.
THE NEW ONE: Been a wonderful flagbearer for his yard and was back on the winning trail, switched to handicaps, in the Welsh Champion Hurdle last time. This is altogether deeper but he always gives a bold sight around here and the strong pace and big field will play to his strengths.
IVANOVICH GORBATOV: Fascinating runner for all Barry Geraghty prefers stablemate Tigris River. Without a win since landing the 2016 Triumph (beating Apple’s Jade, Footpad and Let’s Dance) but has run some big races in the meantime, notably when sixth in the County Hurdle when the subject of a huge gamble. Only a pound higher here and looks the sort to pick up a valuable pot but the blinkers are left off for his reappearance.
TIGRIS RIVER: Found plenty for pressure when landing Galway Hurdle last time and comes here chasing a four-timer. Strikes very much as the sort who has more to offer but that will need to be the case from a mark of 150.
OLD GUARD: Won this in 2015 and has run well in the last two County Hurdles. Enjoyed a confidence booster at Kempton last time and should run better than his forecast price suggests for the excellent Bryony Frost.
CHESTERFIELD: Enjoyed a profitable spring, winning at Aintree then following up in the Scottish Champion Hurdle. Now five pounds higher than his last winning mark and will need to be right at his very best to make an impression on his seasonal bow.
ELGIN: Gave five pounds and a length-and-three-quarters beating to Mohaayed at Kempton on Boxing Day and not disgraced when seventh in Sky Bet Supreme. Showed benefit of encouraging reappearance to score in style at Ascot a fortnight ago and this strong traveller looks set to play a leading role here.
PROJECT BLUEBOOK: Ran with credit in both the Fred Winter (third) and Galway Hurdle (sixth) and represents shrewd connections. Another not to discount in a wide-open heat.
FLYING TIGER: Won the Fred Winter at the Festival in March and good third behind London Prize in Elite Hurdle at Wincanton last week. Weighted to finish closer to that rival here and the suspicion is the big field, strong pace scenario will really play to his strengths.
LONDON PRIZE: Ready winner of the Elite Hurdle and heads here in the form of his life. Ian Williams can do little wrong at present so ticks plenty of boxes – if last week’s race hasn’t left a mark.
AMOUR DE NUIT: Open to significant improvement and after splitting Poetic Rhythm and Vision Des Flos in the Persian War at Chepstow, ran out ready winner of a Kempton novice. This race will play more to his strengths and he looks destined to run a huge race.
JENKINS: May not have scaled the anticipated heights as a novice hurdler last term but did claim wins at Newbury and Ffos Las. Trainer feels he's badly handicapped – bumper form suggests he isn't - so be interesting to see how he goes. The market hasn't missed him.
MOHAAYED: Stable have fine record in this and he looks a work in progress. Enjoyed a penalty kick at Market Rasen in May after shaping well behind Chesterton in Scottish Champion. Travelled well for a long way and short of room at crucial stage when seventh in County Hurdle. Again – get the (long) shortlist ready for him.
NIETZSCHE: Excellent third in the Fred Winter here in March but lacks the scope for improvement of one or two of these and looks in the handicapper's grip – for all the excellent James Bowen's seven pound claim will help.
MISTERON: Improved to win at Chepstow on reappearance, his fourth victory from his last six starts, and represents a very shrewd stable. Hard not to think there’s more to come here but this is a much tougher test than the ones he's been sitting of late.
TOP OFTHE RA: Won three times over the summer in his native Ireland – including at Down Royal last time – but races from three pounds of the handicap and is one of the few that are readily dismissed.
WILLIAM H BONNEY: Alan King has long thought this race will suit and Mitchell Bastyan claims five off (horse four pounds out the handicap). Won here in January but came up short when sights were raised afterwards in Betfair Hurdle and Imperial Cup and hasn’t always convinced with his finishing efforts.
So where do you start with this? It’s easier to name the horses who didn't make the shorstlist. Ivanovic Gorbatov was set to be the selection but the headgear is off and there may be other days for him. Jenkins and Mohaayed appeal as potentially well treated, Elgin should go well - a comment that also applies to Flying Tiger. Old Guard is capable of outrunning his big price but stablemate AMOUR DE NUIT is a tentative selection. He ran a cracker in the Persian War at Chepstow, won tidily at Kempton last time and we haven’t seen the best of him yet.