The respective standings of Peace And Co and Old Guard in the ante-post betting for the 2016 Champion Hurdle do little to reflect their current official ratings.
Nicky Henderson’s 2015 Triumph Hurdle winner has just 2lbs in hand over his Paul-Nicholls-trained rival ahead of their clash in Cheltenham’s International Hurdle.
Yet Peace And Co is an 8/1 shot for the March championship, whereas Old Guard can be backed at 25/1 for victory.
They are a good deal closer in the market for their upcoming throw down, with the unbeaten grey the 5/6 favourite and his in-form fellow four-year-old 7/2.
True, the former came home 25 lengths in front of the latter during his Festival win, but Nicholls’ four-year-old has improved beyond all recognition this term.
Having ended 2014/15 rated 137 over hurdles, he has already climbed the handicap to the tune of 20lb, courtesy of successive victories under 7lb claimer Harry Cobden.
Both of those wins came in competitive handicaps at Cheltenham
Peace And Co may be undefeated, but he is also as uncertain to be race fit for the International as he is unlikely to improve drastically in 2015/16.
In recent years Triumph winners have often progressed to run respectably in the following season’s Champion Hurdle.
Countrywide Flame, Zarkandar and Zaynar all followed up victories in the juvenile blue riband with decent runs in the following years all-ages championship.
However, the fates of other recent winners such as Tiger Roll and Soldatino (like Peace And Co owned by Isaac Souede) show that significant further progression over timber is far from guaranteed.
Old Guard has already shown himself to be barely recognisable from the juvenile of last season and didn’t look to be done improving when winning as he pleased in the Greatwood Hurdle last time out.
The same cannot yet be said for his main rival in the International Hurdle betting.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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