Friday, August 26, 2011

Cheltenian aiming for more Cheltenham success

Few horses in recent times have been more appropriately named than the Philip Hobbs-trained Cheltenian, the horse who romped up the Cheltenham hill in March to record an impressive victory in the ultra-competitive Festival Bumper and who is now ante-post favourite to return to Prestbury Park next March and repeat the feat in one of the big novice hurdles at the fixture, writes Elliot Slater. Fans of Cheltenham Festival betting will be interested in this.

Bred in France where he was bought as a yearling for 27,000 euros by Guy Petit, Cheltenian made his racecourse bow at Punchestown last October where word of his precocious talent had leaked out onto the racecourse and he was sent off at just 5/1 in a field of 22 well bred National Hunt horses. Despite shaping with tremendous promise, he couldn’t quite manage to get by the eventual winner Wandering Aeungus and had to settle for the runner’s-up spot for the one and only time in his career to date.

Sent to the Cheltenham November Sales a month later, the son of Astarabad was knocked down to Roger Brookhouse for a massive 210,000 guineas, but made the first repayment on that substantial outlay when winning on his British debut at Kempton in February for Philip Hobbs, under a well judged ride from Richard Johnson. On only the third outing of his career he then won the biggest bumper of them all when proving five-lengths too strong for Destroyer Deployed in the showcase Cheltenham event a month later. Those looking at Tips for Cheltenham betting should remember this.

This term Cheltenian will set out on his career as a novice hurdler and bookmakers are already running scared in making him 10/1 clear favourite for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and the same price to land the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle at the same fixture. The chances are that the latter contest will probably prove more suited to Hobbs’ latest star timber topper with connections very much of the opinion that staying will eventually be his game, so the minimum trip of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle is unlikely to play to the strengths of the talented five-year-old.

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