15:30 Cheltenham Thu 15 March 2018
Smart in bumpers and over hurdles, he looks to have his chasing career curtailed for now to switch back to hurdles. Still very much unexposed as a staying hurdler and it should be remembered that he's a Grade 1 winner over hurdles.
Has won his last two hurdle races in good style, turning in a career best last time when enjoying the testing conditions at Haydock. Connections have been tempted to supplement him for this although this will prove a far tougher test than before.
Failed to take advantage of a lenient mark over fences last time and returns to hurdles. Has won at this level in France but suspicion he will come up short here; travels well but can find little off the bridle and hard to win with.
Tough sort who posted a career best in this last year. His subsequent runs haven't proved as good although a return to this trip will help. Showed his well-being at Fontwell last time over shorter and could give a good account at a decent price.
Built on a solid Flat career over hurdles going from strength-to-strength and producing his best performance when winning last year's Albert Bartlett. Only seen once since then so will have a long absence and testing conditions to overcome.
New kid on the staying block this year, he's made rapid strides in staying contests, graduating out of handicap company at Ascot in December. Tough and genuine sort who finds plenty for pressure and a leading contender as he faces his biggest test.
Proved himself at the Festival (won Coral Cup last year) and has continued to progress in graded events since. Produced a career best to win the Irish Champion Hurdle (2m) last time but proven as a stayer; has a touch of class and much respected.
Champion Hurdle regular and a high class hurdler, connections now decide to change tack and try him over further. Never tried over this far but does have plenty of form around here and his class may be enough to see him there in the closing stages.
Progressed well over staying trips making up for a Festival fall when scoring in a similar race at Aintree. So far hasn't managed to quite bridge the gap to this level but ran with credit here last time and may yet do better if the ground dries up.
Improved dramatically when first joining this stable, winning eight in a row including a Festival success. Placed in this contest last year but he's not quite been at his best of late and has work to do with Sam Spinner on their Ascot run.
Consistent sort who has run well here before winning over 2m4f on his penultimate start. However he may not quite stay this far despite the fact that he travels well and acts on this track; merits consideration for the places.
Victorious against Supersundae last year over a staying trip at Aintree that capped a fine season over hurdles. Tried over fences this year (won twice) but not really taken to that sphere and reverts to hurdles; a big chance of landing this prize.
One of four runners for this yard, she is a Grade 1 winner in the past and looks to have her career back on track now after a couple of disappointments. Career best effort last time (lost out to a stronger stayer); may be better against her own sex.
Beat Wholestone earlier in the season highlighting her progressive nature although her career has gone sideways rather than forwards since then. Stays well and deserves to take her chance here but the Mares' Hurdle may have been a better option.
Smart hurdler and already a Festival winner, she bounced back from a bad fall to show her best at Leopardstown on her penultimate start. Turned in a poor effort last time out when tried over 3m for the first time; more than lack of stamina to blame.
Last Year's Winner
|T: W P MullinsJ: R Walsh|
Sam Spinner (9/4), Supasundae (6/1), Yanworth (6/1), Unowhatimeanharry (8/1), Penhill (12/1), Apple's Jade (12/1), Wholestone (14/1), L'Ami Serge (14/1), Bacardys (14/1), The New One (18/1), Augusta Kate (20/1), Colin's Sister (33/1), The Worlds End (33/1), Lil Rockerfeller (33/1), Old Guard (33/1), Let's Dance (33/1), Donna's Diamond (66/1)
WHAT THE TRAINERS SAY
Jedd O'Keeffe - Sam Spinner: "Everything is good and the ground is fine for us. We have no worries on that score. You've got Yanworth and Supasundae in there, they are probably the two you'd be worried about. We couldn't be happier with our horse and we'll see what happens."
Jockey Joe Colliver - Sam Spinner: "If it was on good ground we'd be at the mercy of the speed horses, but on soft ground they still have to prove their stamina and we have no doubts on that front. We don't have to make all the running. What we need is just a nice, even pace. If someone else wants to go on, I'm happy to let them. If not, I'm happy to make it."
Jessica Harrington - Supasundae: "He won't have to make his own running, which is great. He can be dropped in a little bit and he does pick up well. I think he does stay three miles, I'm not too worried about that."
Assistant trainer Patrick Mullins - Bacardys and Penhill: "Bacardys has schooled very well over hurdles since falling over fences in Leopardstown over Christmas. His work has been very good. The trip is a bit of an unknown, but I think his style of racing will help him. Penhill obviously hasn't run since winning the Albert Bartlett at last year's Festival, but we've been very happy with him at home and although he's a second-season novice, he's actually got a lot of experience, having had nine runs last season."
Nigel Twiston-Davies - The New One and Wholestone: "I expect The New One and Wholestone will dead-heat! I don't know as it is a whole new game for The New One, while Wholestone has done well all season. The New One has been very kind to us. Wholestone is proven at the distance, while The New One isn't, so it is impossible to say which will do better on the day."
Alan King - Yanworth: "I've been very happy with him. He won't mind the ground and he gets the trip so well. He has schooled beautifully over hurdles since his last run. It is just up to him now."
Harry Fry - Unowhatimeanharry: "He's a 10-year-old now, so he's up against it, but hopefully he'll run well in what looks an open enough race."
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