TRAINER Nicky Henderson has won the last two renewals of tomorrow’s International Hurdle (3.05pm) and his unbeaten Triumph Hurdle winner Pentland Hills is 6/4 with Ladbrokes to land the hat-trick.
We won’t know the final field for the Grade Two prize until later this morning, but Henderson is likely to be represented by Call Me Lord, as well giving him a particularly strong hand.
After winning on his hurdling debut at Plumpton in February, Pentland Hills then went on to win at both the Cheltenham and Aintree festivals and is currently and 8/1 shot with Ladbrokes for next year’s Champion Hurdle.
The recent rain shouldn’t cause him too much bother and his age doesn’t worry me too much either as Henderson won this with a similar type in Grandouet back in 2011.
In fact, four-year-olds have actually won three of the last 11 renewals.
I suppose the only real negative is the price, and if conditions do get really bad it may just be worth taking him on.
County Hurdle winner Ch’tibello loves it at Cheltenham and won’t mind the ground.
The fact he stays a good deal further will also stand him in good stead, but he is another who has been well found in the market and is short enough at around 11/4.
Call Me Lord ran really well at Ascot on his reappearance but has never run at Cheltenham before and all his best form seems to be on right-handed tracks.
That leaves ELIXIR DE NUTZ who looks the value call at 7/1 with Coral.
He’s not been seen for nearly a year but handles bad ground and has plenty of really strong Cheltenham form in the book.
He carried a double penalty to victory when winning a novice hurdle at this meeting 12 months ago and then won the Grade One Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown in January.
If this becomes more of a test of attrition than speed, that will play to his strengths and he shouldn’t be far way despite the lack of a recent outing.
Once again, we will have to wait to find out the final declared runners for the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle (3.40pm) where Nicky Henderson is likely to be represented by Dame De Compagnie.
She ran really well in the Greatwood Hurdle here last month and the step back up in trip is likely to help.
However, there may just be a bit of value in opposing her with David Pipe’s progressive mare QUEENS CAVE who can be backed at 8/1 with Coral.
She won’t mind all this recent rain and won in the style of a very good horse at Exeter last time.
I expect her to give the favourite a real run for her money.
Looking elsewhere on the card and I expect Gary Moore’s Botox Has to go well in the opener (12.10pm) but would be wary of Tombee Du Ciel should she turn up.
There won’t be an enormous field for the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (2.30pm) but it still looks very competitive.
Champagne Well sets the bar pretty high, but I expect Jamie Snowden’s Kiltealy Bridge to outrun his odds.
The worse the ground gets, the better his chances.
However, the likelihood of less than eight runners removes the appeal of an each-way bet.
Elixir De Nutz 3.05pm Cheltenham
Queens Cave 3.40pm Cheltenham