Comfortable wins on his first two starts at Bangor over the larger obstacles resulted in Peddlers Cross rising to the head of the Arkle odds for the Cheltenham Festival.
But his defeat over Christmas to Sprinter Sacre over the same distance has left his festival plans up in the air and this uncertainty may result in punters being able to take advantage of large ante-post Cheltenham odds.
Despite his 16-length defeat at Kempton the fellow Arkle candidate Sprinter Sacre, the 2m novice chase still seems the most likely to feature Peddlers Cross.
The distance was Peddlers Cross’ best over hurdles and trainer Donald McCain insists that the horse was below par in the williamhill.com novices’ chase and will improve at Cheltenham with the course being more favourably left handed.
Peddlers Cross’ odds are 6/1 to win the Arkle and he will undoubtedly go off shorter if this is the race he tackles at Cheltenham.
Jewson Novice’s Chase
If it is assessed that Peddlers Cross does have the required speed to win the Arkle, then a step up to 2m4f may be more beneficial in the Jewson Novices’ Chase.
The added distance will be no issue for Peddlers Cross and the slower racing speed will put less pressure on his jumping.
Peddlers Cross finished second in the Champion Hurdle last season and could return to the smaller obstacles with last year’s winner struggling with injury troubles.
Second-season hurdlers do not have the greatest track record in the Champion Hurdle, but the likes of Grandouet, Zarkandar and Spirit Son look the leading rivals to Hurricane Fly this year, especially with Binocular still looking some way below his best.
Therefore, the race could be Peddlers Cross’ to win and he is 10/1 in the Champion Hurdle odds.
Although his appearance is largely unlikely, Ladbrokes are offering a refunded stake on all non runners in the Champion Hurdle, meaning it may pay to have a small saver on Peddlers Cross in case he does take part.