GUEST POST BY JACK MILNER Cheltenham returns with two days of terrific action as The New One (3.00) puts his Champion Hurdle credentials on the line in Saturday’s International Hurdle. Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Neptune winner was impressive on his return, spanking last year’s Champion Hurdle runner-up Rock On Ruby by ten lengths at Kempton and looking an out-and-out superstar in the making. He reopposes Zarkandar, who beat him in the Aintree Hurdle in April, and despite conceding 4lb should be better suited by the drop in trip and the return to Cheltenham, where the 5-y-o has a terrific record.
The New One is currently the 4/1 joint-favourite (Non Runner Free Bet with BetVictor) for the Champion Hurdle with Nicky Henderson’s Fighting Fifth Hurdle winner My Tent or Yours.
The Stewart Family Thank You Gold Cup looks set to have plenty of horses reappearing from October and November’s respective handicap chases, including Paddy Power Gold Cup hero Johns Spirit, who looks set to take his place with Colour Squadron, Attaglance, Tap Night and Easter Meteor. David Pipe has Salut Flo entered, who was last seen winning the Byrne Group Plate here at the Festival in March. Providing he is fit enough, he looks the one to beat, with a great record fresh and for a stable bang in form.
The Relkeel Hurdle that rounds off the card has been won by Nicky Henderson’s Oscar Whisky for the last two years and he aims to maintain his fine record in the race with Rolling Star, but he was well behind Willie Mullins’ Diakali in the Triumph Hurdle and it is difficult to reason why he can turn the form around here. Diakali (3.35) went on to win G1 juvenile hurdles in both Ireland and France and made a pleasing reappearance when third behind Jezki at Fairyhouse. Down in grade, he is respected and Ruby Walsh is expected to come over to ride.
It’s BetVictor day at Doncaster with the two highlights looking to be the BetVictor.com Handicap Chase and a very likeable chaser around these parts is the locally trained Night in Milan (3.15) for Keith Reveley. With son James booked to ride, he is seeking to go one better than last year when losing out by a nostril. The 7-y-o was well backed on his return and travelled well before failing to stay three and a half miles at Sedgefield and despite disappointing in the competitive Fixed Brush Handicap Hurdle at Haydock won by Gevrey Chambertin, he looks sure to run another bold race, despite a 6lb higher mark.
The BetVictor Summit Juvenile Hurdle was won by Kashmir Peak last year, fending off subsequent Triumph Hurdle third Sametegal and there could be more Cheltenham pointers from the pair of Royal Irish Hussar and Fox Norton. Nicky Henderson’s colt has been very impressive in his three starts to date but with a 7lb penalty preference lies with Nick Williams’ Fox Norton (2.05) who finished just a neck down at Market Rasen and is entitled to progress from the run.
Willie Mullins had TEN entered at the five-day stage for the €70,000 Navan Novices’ Hurdle (G1) over two and a half miles on Sunday, in a race that has been used as a pointer towards the Cheltenham Festival. But Noel Meade’s Apache Stronghold (1.05) will have strong claims should he take up his entry. He stayed on stoutly to beat a stellar field in the Monksfield Novice Hurdle (G2) over course and distance last month and looks the one to side with for Noel Meade and Paul Carberry.
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