Watch Oscar Whisky's win with our Cheltenham review
Whisky gives Champion marker with classy win
Report: Cheltenham, Saturday
Cheltenham & Three Counties Club Hurdle 2m4½f
OSCAR WHISKY was given a quote of 12-1 for the Stan James Champion Hurdle by William Hill after dismissing his rivals with a classy comeback run on Saturday.
The sponsors were also impressed with the Nicky Henderson-trained runner, cutting him to 16-1 (from 50) for the Champion Hurdle.
There had been strong market signals on Saturday morning that a big run was expected, although confidence appeared to wane a little before the off as he drifted out to 3-1 from 9-4.
Oscar Whisky sat towards the rear of the field under jockey Barry Geraghty as Barizan and Celestial Halo pressed on at the front.
Barizan's effort ended at the top of the hill while 2-1 favourite Karabak was under a strong drive from Tony McCoy as Oscar Whisky cruised through to join leader Celestial Halo.
Geraghty was keen not to hit the front too soon on Oscar Whisky but could hold him no longer and the pair went to the front approaching the final hurdle.
Barry Geraghty: "He's top drawer"PICTURE: Martin Lynch
The staying-on Any Given Day was in close attendance jumping the last but was left behind as Geraghy shook up Oscar Whisky, who stormed clear to win by seven lengths.
Geraghty is in no doubt about the ability of the Dai Walters-owned six year-old and said: "For sure and he'll improve fitness wise. I'd say he's a better horse this year than last year and he was only four lengths behind Menorah.
"He's top drawer. It was encouraging to see him run like that and he won't have a problem with good ground."
He added: "As the race developed he was looking like he'd do what he did. He settled well and travelled and came alive as we turned for home.
"He got to the front a bit earlier than I would've liked, but I was always happy with him."
Henderson said: "There's always been a lot of faith in him and he's still learning.I know exactly where we'll go next - it's the Welsh Champion Hurdle at his owner's Ffos Las.
"If entries for the Champion Hurdle were tomorrow he'd be entered, but we'll wait until after Ffos Las before deciding.
"The plan was the Christmas Hurdle, but we took a punt on this as the rearranged race would be too close to the Welsh Champion."
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