Triumph Hurdle success in 2015 should have been a springboard for a confident tilt at Cheltenham’s Tuesday showpiece, but as the betting reveals for the next renewal of the Champion Hurdle, Peace And Co is unlikely to be backed in anything approaching widespread fashion.
Seven horses sit above Nicky Henderson’s hugely-promising juvenile in the ante-post market and considering the blistering Faugheen and fellow prime contender Arctic Fire won’t be gracing Prestbury Park in 2016, this is a stinging indictment.
Peace And Co’s claims have been severely damaged by successive disappointing showings over the smaller obstacles this season, ensuring a seemingly prohibitive price of 20/1.
Undoubtedly, a backpedalling display in December’s International Hurdle – which saw Daryl Jacob’s mount run out of juice two out to finish last of sixth – and then looking strung out again at Sandown in February when third of four, cannot inspire any confidence.
However, such bizarre performances from an animal that won his first four races under rules could be explained away after Peace And Co was packed off for a breathing operation days after the Sandown setback.
Clearly it’s a risky ploy to assume the procedure will solve the riddle. But as Sporting Life’s Lydia Hislop points out, at least “punters will be getting 20/1 for their credulity”.
Peace And Co wouldn’t be the first to suddenly snap out of his malaise when going under the knife for a respiratory issue either.
The finest example in recent times will be looking to cap a remarkable return to form after a summer breathing operation by striding to Cheltenham Gold Cup glory this year.
Colin Tizzard’s Cue Card looked to be falling out of chasing’s higher echelons when going six starts without victory, only for the 2013 Ryanair winner to come back with a vengeance over fences this season, claiming both the Betfair Chase and King George VI Chases.
The correlation with the operation is unavoidable and although punters will still be nervous, Peace And Co’s Cheltenham credentials of a year ago make him an intriguing each-way chance in light of surgery.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.