WITH no Faugheen or Annie Power in this afternoon’s Champion Hurdle (3.30pm), there doesn’t appear to be an obvious superstar ready to carry on where that injured pair left off.
Yanworth heads the betting at 5/2 with 188BET on the back of three wins so far this campaign, but looks opposable.
He isn’t the slickest of hurdlers, often hits a flat spot, and wasn’t good enough to win last year’s Neptune. Furthermore, he was originally being trained for the Stayers’ Hurdle.
It was only when Unowhatimeanharry burst onto the staying hurdle scene for the same owner that a drop back in trip to two miles was even mooted.
Victory in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton and the Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton followed, and he has leaped to the head of the market.
Owner JP McManus is also represented by Buveur D’Air, who has switched back to hurdling after an underwhelming temporary chasing career.
He is another player, although his chances would be aided by more rain.
In fact, I actually prefer his stablemates Brain Power and My Tent Or Yours.
The former is stepping up from handicap company, but is a fast improver and couldn’t be confidently ruled out.
As for My Tent Or Yours, he has finished second in this contest two years on the bounce and looks a big price at 16/1 to hit the frame.
However, I’m prepared to take a chance on the novice MOON RACER at 10/1 with 188BET, who lines up here rather than taking the easier option of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.
The fragile eight-year-old has only managed to make it to the racecourse on six occasions in an injury-plagued career to date.
He has won five of those six starts, including a Champion Bumper at this meeting two years ago with a certain Yanworth behind him back in fourth.
Yes, the Supreme Novices’ would have been an easier assignment and his owners could have waited 12 months for a tilt at the big one.
But when you consider his injury record and the fact that the side-lined stars could be back in 2018, the decision is understandable and they may just be repaid for their brave call.
Moon Racer e/w 3.30pm Cheltenham
Vroum Vroum Mag e/w (already advised NRNB – non-runner)