Melodic Rendezvous may have been cut to 16/1 to win the 2014 Champion Hurdle after a victory in the Totepool Enter The Ten To Follow Elite Hurdle, but the truth is that he will need to improve at least another 10lb if he is to finish in the first three at the Cheltenham Festival.
In the last five renewals of the Champion Hurdle, only one horse has finished in the first three that has not arrived at Cheltenham with an official rating of at least 162.
Melodic Rendezvous has not had his rating re-assessed since his Wincanton victory, but is sure to be put up a few lbs for his beating of the 146-rated Far West, who was receiving 4lb on the day and went down by close to two lengths.
At present, the star horse from the Jeremy Scott yard remains rated at 150, while all of the five horses ahead of him in the Champion Hurdle betting are rated in excess of 160.
There is an argument that Melodic Rendezvous is perhaps open to more improvement than most, as he has still only raced five times over hurdles and will only look even better if his jumping becomes more fluent.
However, Our Conor has only had four career hurdles starts and is already rated 161.
The one area of hope for Melodic Rendezvous is the depths of improvement that have been made by some of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winners of recent years when stepping into the senior hurdling ranks.
This is a race that Melodic Rendezvous would have certainly come close to winning at the last Cheltenham Festival had a bad scope not ruled him out in the build-up.
Go Native won the Supreme Novices’ in 2009 off a mark of 139 before being sent off favourite for the following Champion Hurdle off 164, a rise of 25lb.
Menorah went up 17lb between the same two races in the following year, while Darlan climbed 18lb between finishing second in the 2012 Supreme Novices’ and his final career start, when suffering a fatal fall.
Melodic Rendezvous was rated 145 for his final start in the novice ranks and so a mark of 165 is not out of the question ahead of the Festival, where his battling qualities and ability to run on strongly after the final hurdle will be more than useful up the Cheltenham hill.
But, this is the minimum improvement that he will arguably need to even make the frame in the Champion Hurdle.
Current 2014 Champion Hurdle betting
The New One 7/2
Hurricane Fly 4/1
Our Conor 5/1
My Tent Or Yours 6/1
Melodic Rendezvous 16/1
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
Fancy a flutter? Sign up today to claim three £10 free bets when you bet £10.