Timeform bring you their runner-by-runner guide to the Grade 1 Champion Hurdle on Tuesday.
"YANWORTH has been more workmanlike than spectacular this season but it's still hard not to be impressed by an overall record over hurdles of 7 wins from 8 starts"
Tuesday 14th March, 15:30
1. BRAIN POWER (Nicky Henderson/David Mullins)
Still lightly raced over hurdles and ended novice campaign with third in Grade 1 at Punchestown. Progressed further to win a couple of good handicaps in December, on both occasions beating stablemate Consul de Thaix into second, firstly in listed event at Sandown and then in competitive contest at Ascot (formerly the Ladbroke) when impressive under 11-11. Handicaps not orthodox route to Champion Hurdle most years but not much more progress needed to be in the shake-up.
2. BUVEUR D'AIR (Nicky Henderson/Noel Fehily)
Third to top-notch stablemate Altior in Supreme on same day last year (only defeat over jumps) before gaining Grade 1 win of his own at Aintree from Petit Mouchoir and Limini. Winner of both starts in novice chases before Christmas but chasing career shelved for time being when easily landing odds against three lesser rivals in listed Contenders Hurdle at Sandown last month. Different class of opposition here, but novice form makes him one of the main players.
3. CH'TIBELLO (Dan Skelton/Harry Skelton)
Yet to run a bad race over hurdles, winning Scottish Champion Hurdle (Limited Handicap) at Ayr last April and valuable four-runner event at Haydock in November. Smart efforts last two starts when placed behind Yanworth in Christmas Hurdle at Kempton and Kingwell at Wincanton (only beaten a length in receipt of weight) but hard to see him playing more of a part here.
4. CYRUS DARIUS (Malcolm Jefferson/Brian Hughes)
Won all three starts over hurdles as a novice two years ago, notably Grade 2 contest at Aintree, and made winning start to chasing career the following autumn before a lengthy absence. Back over hurdles this term, much the better effort when left clear to win Morebattle Hurdle at Kelso. Still lightly raced and clearly retains plenty of ability, but stiffish task even on best form.
5. FOOTPAD (Willie Mullins/Ruby Walsh)
One of the leading juveniles last season, third in Triumph before winning two good races at Auteuil. Outsider of four but seemingly improved to run Petit Mouchoir to a length in Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown last time, though ridden to pick up pieces to some extent and balance of form suggests he's up against it.
6. MOON RACER (David Pipe/Tom Scudamore)
Fragile type, with just six starts behind him although now aged eight. Only beaten once though, and wins include 2015 Champion Bumper. Twice had subsequent Betfair Hurdle winner Ballyandy behind him in the autumn, firstly at Perth and then in Grade 2 novice at Cheltenham (third course win), outspeeding rivals in tactical affair last time. More scope to improve than some, but will need to in this company.
7. MY TENT OR YOURS (Nicky Henderson/Aidan Coleman)
Veteran by hurdling standards but runner-up all three runs at Festival, notably behind Jezki in 2014 Champion Hurdle and when chasing home Annie Power on return from lengthy absence last year. However, hasn't won since and unable to take advantage of favourable terms against The New One in International Hurdle on unsuitably soft ground here in December. Only fourth to Yanworth in Christmas Hurdle at Kempton last time, but not for first time of late had excuses there and makes each-way appeal.
8. PETIT MOUCHOIR (Henry de Bromhead/Bryan Cooper)
Best efforts as a novice for Willie Mullins when runner-up in Grade 1 contests at Aintree (behind Buveur d'Air) and Punchestown (place ahead of Brain Power). Fell three out when set to play part in Fighting Fifth at Newcastle but successful since from the front at Leopardstown in Ryanair Hurdle (readily) and when beating same rivals, headed by Footpad, in Irish Champion Hurdle. Hasn't faced other leading contenders this term but sound claims nonetheless.
9. SCEAU ROYAL (Alan King/Daryl Jacob)
Useful juvenile last term but improved into smart hurdler this season, winning four-year-old contest at Cheltenham and Elite Hurdle (Limited Handicap) at Wincanton in autumn. Creditable third to stablemate Yanworth and Ch'tibello in Kingwell back at Wincanton after break last time, but very much stable's second string again here.
10. THE NEW ONE (Nigel Twiston-Davies/Sam Twiston-Davies)
Making sixth Festival appearance in all after three previous Champion Hurdle attempts (third, fifth and fourth). Mopped up other good hurdles over the years and was winning both International Hurdle here and Champion Hurdle Trial at Haydock for a third time earlier in season, top-class effort conceding weight to My Tent Or Yours on first occasion. This probably the weakest Champion Hurdle he's contested and better chance on form this year than odds imply, but lingering doubts about jumping being slick enough for this sort of test.
11. WICKLOW BRAVE (Willie Mullins/Paul Townend)
Won the County Hurdle here in 2015 but not seen over hurdles since third in Fighting Fifth later that year. Smart stayer on Flat as well nowadays, winning Irish St Leger in September before out the back in Melbourne Cup on latest start. Adds definite intrigue to the line-up, but not the most solid of claims.
12. YANWORTH (Alan King/Mark Walsh)
Only been beaten once in eight starts over hurdles, by Yorkhill in last year's Neptune. Landed short odds this season in Coral Hurdle at Ascot, Christmas Hurdle at Kempton (from The New One), and Kingwell at Wincanton (beat Ch'tibello and Sceau Royal), wearing first-time cheekpieces for latest success. Hasn't entirely convinced as a potential Champion Hurdle winner, but keeps delivering when it matters and left with leading claims on form in a substandard year.
Timeform Champion Hurdle 1-2-3
2. Buveur d'Air
3. My Tent Or Yours
Timeform Analyst's Verdict:
YANWORTH has been more workmanlike than spectacular this season but it's still hard not to be impressed by an overall record over hurdles of 7 wins from 8 starts (5 of them Graded events) and he looks the percentage call in a very open renewal. The Nicky Henderson trio of Brain Power, Buveur d'Air and My Tent Or Yours, who is a dual runner-up in the race, may give him most to think about.
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