This Sunday Cheltenham hosts the 26th running of the Greatwood Hurdle won by some of the top hurdlers ever to grace the hallowed turf of Cheltenham and we have free racing tips for Cheltenham's card.
Rooster Booster, Detroit City, Sizing Europe and Menorah are among the top horses to have won this race and this year seems to be all about potential rather than being a vintage renewal. A lot of last year’s top novices return such as L’Unique, Sametegal, Rolling Star and Flaxen Flare to take on some of the more hardened handicappers such as Get Me Out Of Here and Cash and Go. Firstly I have put together some trends for the statisticians:
10/10 won at ages 4 to 6.
7/10 were rated 140 or higher.
9/10 were a second or third season hurdler.
9/10 have won a class 2 or better hurdle.
9/10 priced 12/1 or lower.
10/10 won no more than 2 handicap hurdles.
This race comes across to me at first of being a bit of a test for all of the returning novices from last year to see really how good they are, both Rooster Booster and Sizing Europe’s careers sparkled after winning this race and it could potentially be the making or breaking of most of the runners. Dell’ Arca is the first of interest coming from a different route to most straight via France and is supposed to be well touted in the Pipe yard who expect this to be a top class horse. Potentially if living up to the yard’s expectations this horse could be off a seriously low weight but this race could come too soon as it lacks any sort of form in this sphere and could be anything. Court Minstrel is coming along nicely for Evan Williams winning a nice race at Ayr and also at Plumpton, should be fine on the course and ground but 11st 12lb is a lot of weight to carry and has only been done successfully by some of the best and it will be a struggle off that weight.
There are plenty of Irish raiders heading over to plunder the prize and the best placed to do it is Flaxen Flare, the former won the Fred Winter off a mark of 127 and showed some improvement when 5l behind G1 winner Jezki at Down Royal. Course form is significant especially winning a big handicap here previously and should be there or there about come the finish. Get Me Out Of Here has struggled since early 2012 and the 9 year old could spring a surprise if back to old form but that looks doubtful on its last couple of runs.
Next come the young pretenders, last year’s novices have come to storm the party in the shape of Pine Creek, Sametegal, Rolling Star, Kashmir Peak and L’Unique. Pine Creek was last seen winning a nice Ascot handicap in good style but did struggle in a race at Sandown before that and carrying a penalty in a much stronger race puts me off this horse. Sametegal has some really good solid form and won nicely at Cheltenham a few weeks ago so has the perfect preparation but despite that will still need to improve a bit to take part in the finish. Rolling Star was the favourite for the Triumph but couldn’t land a blow at either Cheltenham or Aintree, this horse has the potential to be special but I think it will need more time at the top before blossoming into a top class racehorse. Kashmir Peak hails from the same yard as consistent improver Countrywide Flame and could surprise a few after running well on the flat. Despite that the horse really struggled in the Triumph and the price is way too short. L’Unique is the last of the novices and looked a very good prospect until disappointing in a mares race last time which it really should have won, this is a step higher than that and will need a lot more improvement to win.
Tanerko Emery is a very nice type who ran 5th in the county hurdle and has the profile to run a big race but for me CASH AND GO is the one that could rout this field. You won’t often see me side with a favourite but there are plenty of worries about the others to fill me with more confidence in the Henderson charge. 2nd in this race off the same weight last year which gives it every chance as Olofi did exactly the same 2 years ago before winning last year. A Grade 1 winner in Ireland whose form when fresh reads 1/1/2, could really put this field away if there is nothing special in the returning novices. The 6/1 with Coral looks good enough and I only expect it to shorten up throughout the week and weekend.
Greatwood Hurdle Betting Tip
CASH AND GO: 6/1 with Coral
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By Nick Driver