Phillip Hobbs sends out Vincent O’Brien County Hurdle hopeful Cheltenian confident his mount can secure a third renewal victory for his yard.
The 8/1 shot has previously been highlighted as one of our selections to watch at this year’s Cheltenham Festival and we’re determined to see out jump racing’s four-day extravaganza with a bang.
Backed in from 14/1, Cheltenian has leading claims and is more than capable of breaking Ireland’s recent stranglehold on the race.
Irish trainers have won seven of the previous 11 runnings with Willie Mullins unsurprisingly saddling the current market leader, the 7/1 chance Arctic Fire.
But don’t let that put you off anything else. Cheltenian was a respectable fourth in the Betfair Hurdle last time out, a good guide for this race and both Hobbs and jockey Richard Johnson believe there’s room for further improvement.
Speaking to the Racing Post ahead of the Festival he said:”Cheltenian could be our best chance in the County Hurdle on Friday. Richard [Johnson] feels he’s a tough, robust horse who will manage the hurly-burly very well… He’s definitely done enough work now and I think he can get better.”
Added to those endorsements, there’s also plenty more in the eight-year-old’s favour.
Winning the Champion Bumper on good ground three years ago looks like a crucial piece of form with that previous Festival success, coupled with this year’s similar ground, playing into his hands.
A mark of 137 is also advantageous, especially given the weight other market fancies Minella Foru and Paul Nicholls’ Lac Fontana will be conceding.
On the flip side, Cheltenian has taken on an extra 3lb for his Newbury fourth in the Betfair Hurdle but that shouldn’t be too much of a problem and we’re confident he can find his way into the winners’ enclosure.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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