13:30 Cheltenham – Grandouet backed up by the stats

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Grandouet took some time to settle into his new yard after arriving from France, but looks the star pick in the JCB Triumph Hurdle, which on paper looks set to be one of the most hotly contested races of the Cheltenham Festival.

Nicky Henderson has trained the winner of the race for the past two years with Zaynar and Soldatino and will believe he has the capabilities to triumph again.

Grandouet has claimed two facile victories on his latest starts and fits the bill of previous Triumph Hurdle winners.

These include having between two and six runs over hurdles, winning on their final start before Cheltenham, winning at least half of their hurdles races, never having triumphed in group company and winning a minimum of two hurdles races.

Meanwhile, he is believed to have more speed than Soldatino and at 6/1, looks like decent value in the Triumph Hurdle betting, although it is unknown how well he will take to the undulations of Cheltenham.

The only other horse in the field to tick all of these boxes is Smad Place and he could definitely be worth an each-way bet at 8/1, particularly if they travel at a strong pace at Cheltenham.

Paul Nicholls arrives with three well-regarded challengers, which includes the inexperienced Zarkandar.

The horse has been one of the best backed in the build up to the Festival, into 7/1, but the fact he only made his hurdles debut last month is not ideal.

Furthermore, given the choice, Ruby Walsh has opted to ride course and distance winner Sam Winner, who is a 6/1, and chance should be forgiven for his poor display on his latest start as he failed to appreciate the soft ground.

Another outsider who may appreciate the firmer surface is Local Hero, who saw his three-race winning streak ended when getting bogged down in the heavy ground at Haydock on his latest start, but could represent great value at 20/1.

A £20 stake on Sam Winner winning the Triumph Hurdle would return £120. New customers can sign up here to take advantage of free bets totalling up to £60.

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