Now is a popular time for horse racing fans to start getting all their early Cheltenham bets in order.
On day one of the Cheltenham Festival 2017, the Champion Hurdle is the feature race where the best two mile hurdlers around will show off their abilities on the biggest stage of all.
Despite Annie Power and Faugheen – the last two winners – not being present, the race is developing into a thoroughly intriguing contest with plenty of young and talented pretenders staking their claim.
In terms of the most improvement shown this term, Henry De Bromhead’s Petit Mouchoir has probably done the most since being transferred from Willie Mullins yard. He’s won two good Grade 1’s and certainly goes to the Cheltenham Festival with every chance.
JP McManus has a few potential players in the field, Buveur D’Air being the apparent chief amongst those. Truth is, we don’t actually know quite how good this horse is or could be, but he did catch the eye when winning his Cheltenham Trial race at Sandown last time out.
If there is a negative with that horse, it’s that he is yet to be tested at this level over hurdles and could have done with Brain Power not being taken out that day to really give him some more experience.
Alan King could have the diamond in the rough in the shape of the imposing and handsome Yanworth, who put the finishing touches on his preparation with a workmanlike success at in the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton over the weekend.
His jumping was decent enough, but he didn’t necessarily improve from his Kempton Park win and the soft ground around that sharp track probably didn’t play to his strengths.
Nevertheless he battled on gamely and looks to be coming to the boil at the perfect time for a trainer who knows how to get one ready to win this race, having won it with Kachit a few years ago.
Yanworth is yet to show himself to be the finished article, but he isn’t far away and he will be primed to bare all in the Champion Hurdle on Champions Day at the Festival.