15:30 Cheltenham Tue 12 March 2019
Weakened quickly from the second last when finishing a well beaten eighth of 11 in this race in 2017; back from a frustrating spell over fences when beating Silver Streak by 1¾L in the Grade 2 International Hurdle (good to soft) in December.
Gamely fended off Melon when taking this race for the second straight year in 2018; imperious when disposing of Samcro in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle (soft) before a surprise defeat at Kempton; a quite brilliant hurdler who sets the benchmark.
An exciting youngster; has continued his march through the ranks winning yielding/soft Grade 3 contests at Naas (x2) and Limerick; clear scope for further progress, and possible that he's capable of making his mark at the very top level.
Yet to compete at this track but has enjoyed a productive season; pace-setter who posted a career best when beating Silver Streak by 3L in The New One Unibet Hurdle at Haydock (2m, good to soft); tough task with Verdana Blue and Buveur D'Air.
Generally on song at Cheltenham - excelled himself when beaten just a neck by Buveur D'Air in this race in 2018; lightly-raced this season (disappointing); shouldn't reverse Leopardstown form with Apple's Jade; wears newly-applied cheekpieces.
Took the scalp of stablemate and former Champion Faugheen when a decisive winner of the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown (2m, good) in November; followed up in the Grade 1 Ryanair Hurdle at Leopardstown; competes as a fresh horse.
Has made rapid progress since winning the Swinton Hurdle (2m, Haydock) off a mark of 132 in May; no issues whatsoever regarding this track with form-lines closely associated with Brain Power and Global Citizen; tough task at the very highest level.
Connections have ducked the safe option of the Mares' Hurdle following her scintillating success in the Irish Champion; unbeaten this season (4-4) and in receipt of a 7lb mares allowance will provide reigning Champion Buveur D'Air with a stern test.
An effortless winner at the Cheltenham Festival in 2018 (Mares' Novices'); unbeaten since joining Willie Mullins (6-6), mopping up low-key 2m4f contests at Fairyhouse, Sandown and Punchestown; soft ground ideal but faces her toughest assignment yet.
Dual-purpose performer; surprisingly lowered the colours of stablemate Buveur D'Air in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton on Boxing Day; followed an unconventional route into this race and will be doing very well to repeat her peak form at this track.
Last Year's Winner
|T: N J HendersonJ: B J Geraghty|
Apple's Jade (7/4), Laurina (5/2), Buveur D'Air (11/4), Espoir D'Allen (16/1), Melon (20/1), Sharjah (20/1), Verdana Blue (33/1), Brain Power (33/1), Global Citizen (50/1), Silver Streak (80/1)
- Buveur D'Air
- Apple's Jade
- Espoir D'Allen
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