15:30 Cheltenham Tue 13 March 2018
Has won all three starts this season and is bidding to land back-to-back renewals of this after last year's 4½L success. This look a stronger renewal but he gives the impression we are yet to see the best of him and he's the one to beat.
Won a Grade 2 but not won since November 2016 and was beaten 2½L by Elgin last time out when getting 4lb from that rival. Will struggle to reverse that form on worse terms here and hard to fancy in his toughest test to date.
Made a promising start to his career but very hit and miss since. Well beaten last time out at Newbury when 14th of 24 in a Grade 3 and he's seemingly the owner's least likely candidate from his three runners.
Improving throughout this season and has won twice in soft ground including over C&D in November. Likes to be held up and this should be run at a true pace so while this is a big step up in class, he may be able to run in to a place.
Has eight Grade 1 wins and won this race in 2015. Returned from 665-day absence to win at Punchestown but mixed signals on next two runs and needs to be back at his best to trouble Buveur D'air. Can't be ruled out and gets first-time cheekpieces.
Grade 1 winner over hurdles in his pomp and he was an 8/1 shot in 2016 renewal of this when finishing sixth of 12. Sent over fences with mixed success last season and recent hurdles efforts well below the required standard of form to win this.
Flattered by the losing margin when beaten by Buveur D'air in a three-runner heat at Sandown last time and probably wants better ground than what he will get here. Needs a large chunk of improvement just to challenge for minor honours.
Runner-up in the 2017 Supreme and less exposed than many of his rivals here. However, well beaten behind stablemate Faugheen at Leopardstown last time out and there's a suspicion he wants better ground than the forecast going. Stable second-string.
Winner of the Grade 1 Ryanair Hurdle at Leopardstown (Faugheen pulled up) but that rival comfortably reversed the form at the same course last time. Tends to travel well but needs to improve something like a stone to be involved for win purposes
Got the better of My Tent Or Yours in a Grade 1 when last seen over hurdles and has been running well in some top class Flat races since. Well beaten in this race last year but he acts in this ground and he has place claims. Walsh prefers Faugheen.
Not the most straightforward type but very talented horse when he puts it all together. Won the Neptune here in 2016 and landed the JLT over fences last year but it's a big ask to land this on first start back over timber in nearly two years.
Last Year's Winner
|T: N J HendersonJ: N D Fehily|
Buveur D'Air (4/6), Faugheen (4/1), Melon (7/1), Elgin (12/1), My Tent Or Yours (12/1), Wicklow Brave (14/1), Yorkhill (14/1), Mick Jazz (25/1), Ch'tibello (33/1), Identity Thief (50/1), John Constable (66/1), Verdana Blue (66/1), Charli Parcs (100/1)
- Buveur D'Air
- My Tent Or Yours
WHAT THE TRAINERS SAY:
Nicky Henderson - Buveur D'Air: "His greatest asset is his jumping - he is so quick it is frightening. He measures them so precisely - it is like hurdlers in athletics - absolute precision. He is just very good at jumping. I think he is improving - he is getting stronger. When he was third in the Supreme Hurdle to Altior at the Festival two years ago, we knew he was a good horse on the way up."
Patrick Mullins - Faugheen: "Faugheen's form of November (when he won the Morgiana) shows he still has the talent of old but we've been scratching our heads the last two runs, the same as everybody else. We've changed a few things at home like we did last year with Nichols Canyon. We've added the cheekpieces for no real reason but he has nothing to lose wearing them.
"I think the soft ground will help us as it will make it more of a stamina test. It's hard to expect a big run after his last two runs but at the same time me and Dad are still confident he is better than his last two runs."
Patrick Mullins - Yorkhill: "Without doubt he has been the most frustrating horse in the yard this season. He has so much talent but this season nothing has gone to plan. He is a very interesting horse and his best form comes at Cheltenham.
"Again, the soft ground will help him as it will turn it into a stamina test and both his wins here have been over two and a half miles. He has schooled well over hurdles since his last run. It's hard to know what Yorkhill will turn up but hopefully David Mullins can work the best out of him."
Patrick Mullins - Melon: "We've taken the hood off from last time. He is a very unexposed horse and has the potential to improve. His work at home suggest he has improved again and he has a big chance of being in the money. Don't forget last year entering the Supreme he had only had the one run over hurdles. "
Patrick Mullins - Wicklow Brave: "He won a County Hurdle on soft ground so that won't be a problem and to me he seems great at home. He is not coming here off a prep run but he run very well in the race last year. The most important key to him is if he jumps off with the others. If he does, he has got a great chance of being placed as we know he handles the track and the ground."
Alan King - Elgin: "We are not really under any pressure and we are looking forward to it. He didn't run a bad race at Ascot just before Christmas with top-weight when he got beat. They went quite slow that day and that wouldn't have been ideal for him.
"I was surprised how much he improved again before Wincanton. Wayne (Hutchinson) was amazed how well he quickened turning in and we got to the front way too soon."
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