Timeform's Greatwood Hurdle runner-by-runner guide
15:30 Cheltenham, Sunday
Live on ITV
1. Nemean Lion (Kerry Lee/Richard Patrick)
Useful stayer on Flat in France for Andre Fabre in 2020 and took particularly well to hurdling last term, culminating in a Kelso Grade 2 win in March. Took his form up another notch when readily seeing off Anyharminasking in Welsh Champion on reappearance and likely has even more to offer. Player.
2. Too Friendly (James Owen/Lily Pinchin (3))
Firmly on the right track for his current yard, winning three handicap hurdles over two miles during the summer and improving again when second in a listed race over the same distance four weeks ago. 7 lb higher than his last handicap win.
3. Anyharminasking (Jonjo O'Neill/Jonjo O'Neill Jr)
Has a largely progressive profile and returned with a very good one and a half lengths second to Nemean Lion in the Welsh Champion Hurdle at Ffos Las five weeks ago. Likely to have come on for that and can be involved again.
4. Songino (Paul Nicholls/Freddie Gingell (5))
Progressive type last season, winning three times before signing off the campaign with an excellent third at Aintree. Went like the best horse at the weights when third in the Chepstow Silver Trophy on his reappearance and he remains one to be positive about.
5. Punctuation (Fergal O'Brien/Paddy Brennan)
Most progressive since joining this yard and equipped with a tongue tie, rounding off last season with a win in a handicap over two miles at Aintree's Grand National meeting. Warmed up for this with a Flat success at York last month and is another to consider with the ground coming in his favour.
6. Luccia (Nicky Henderson/James Bowen)
Unbeaten in two starts in bumpers and rapidly developed into a useful hurdler. Good three lengths second to You Wear It Well in a Wetherby mares' listed race over two miles on her reappearance and she may have even more to offer now handicapping for the first time.
7. Knickerbockerglory (Dan Skelton/Tristan Durrell (5))
Returned to hurdles to finish second in the Imperial Cup at Sandown in March and bettered even that form when making a winning reappearance at Ascot under Tristan Durrell a fortnight ago. Has to be respected under a 5 lb penalty for yard with a good record in this.
8. Gin Coco (Harry Fry/Jonathan Burke)
Lightly-raced seven-year-old who was an excellent second in this race 12 months ago. Might have just needed his reappearance run behind Nemean Lion and Anyharminasking in the Welsh Champion Hurdle and should be spot on now. Tongue tied first time.
9. Lookaway (Neil King/Jack Quinlan)
Dual bumper winner in 2022 (including Aintree Grade 2). It took a couple of starts for him to click over hurdles but he's been most progressive this season, completing a hat-trick in a course and distance Grade 2 novice 23 days ago. Makes handicap debut now.
10. Swaffham Bulbeck (Stuart Edmonds/Ciaran Gethings)
Ended last season with a small-field win at Fakenham. Returned to hurdles to land a Southwell handicap in September and even better form when second of 12 at Chepstow last month. This demands even more, though.
11. L'Eau du Sud (Dan Skelton/Harry Skelton)
Useful hurdler in France and made a positive start in handicaps for this yard last season, finishing third at Kempton over Christmas then filling the same position in the Grade 2 Morebattle at Kelso in March. One of two strong contenders for a stable which does so well in the top handicap hurdles over two miles. Has had wind surgery and will love the ground.
12. Afadil (Paul Nicholls/Harry Skelton)
Better than result in Fred Winter at the Festival and showed himself to be well handicapped later in the spring, comfortably seeing off 14 rivals at the Ayr Scottish National meeting in April. Did weaken quite tamely when only seventh on his course and distance return last month but perhaps he needed the run. Not ruled out.
13. Iberico Lord (Nicky Henderson/Nico de Boinville)
French bumper winner who was well beaten first two outings over hurdles but proved a different proposition after wind surgery when getting up in the dying strides in a novice hurdle over two miles at Stratford in April. Stepped up again when second of 15 on Sandown handicap debut four weeks later and returns as an unexposed sort from top stable.
14. Go Dante (Olly Murphy/Sean Bowen)
Lightly raced seven-year-old who was well served by a soundly-run race when taking small-field Wetherby handicap in March. Better than the bare result at Aintree on final outing and is still relatively unexposed. Had breathing op during break. Tongue strap on for first time.
15. Hey Johnny (Thomas Mullins/Jack Foley (3))
Won a pair of handicaps over two miles last season and should strip fitter for last month's Galway reappearance, but a number of these rivals look less exposed than him.
16. Onlyamatteroftime (Willie Mullins/Danny Mullins)
Bumper winner for Niall Madden and good third in a maiden hurdle next time. Would have gone close in Cork handicap latest but for hanging left and running out approaching the last. Evidently has the odd quirk but he's a very interesting contender at the foot of weights having joined the powerful Willie Mullins yard.
Timeform's Analyst Verdict:
A really good renewal. Nemean Lion marked himself down as a leading contender for this when seeing off Anyharminasking (pair clear) in the Welsh Champion and can make light of a 5 lb rise with further progress on the cards. Dan Skelton is always to be feared in these races and his L'Eau du Sud and Knickerbockerglory head the many dangers along with Sonigino, who shaped well in the Silver Trophy on his return. Onlyamatteroftime is another fascinating runner having joined Willie Mullins.
1. Nemean Lion
2. L'eau du Sud