Oscar Whisky winning the first Welsh Champion Hurdle run at Ffos LasPICTURE: thejockey.co.uk
Tanerko Emery targets Welsh Champion Hurdle
DAI WALTERS will bid to ensure the Welsh Champion Hurdle trophy does not leave Ffos Las, with Tanerko Emery representing the racecourse owner in the course's flagship race.
Saturday's renewal will be just the second running of the race at Ffos Las to survive the weather, with the Walters-owned Oscar Whisky winning the only previous running in 2011, when sent off the 2-7 favourite.
The move to limited handicap status has succeeded in increasing the competitiveness, with nine more runners lining up than when Oscar Whisky beat just four rivals, and the race sponsors William Hill make Tanerko Emery the 4-1 joint-favourite with the Nicky Henderson-trained top weight Oscara Dara.
Tanerko Emery has won three of his last four starts, with his sole defeat - when second in a competitive novice handicap to Ifandbutwhynot - coming when Conor O'Farrell was not in the saddle. The pair are unbeaten in three starts and O'Farrell keeps the ride for their biggest task to date off a mark of 135, having started life in handicap company off 112.
"He's clearly improving and although he's going up in the weights he won't mind the ground and should be suited by this step up in trip," said trainer David Pipe in his exclusive column in Saturday's Racing Post.
His main market rival is top weight Oscara Dara, who has gone up a stone in the weights for his win in the Listed Lanzarote Hurdle at Kempton, and his trainer said: "He does appear to handle soft ground and that's our one hope.
"He got an almighty heave for winning at Kempton which has put us in a pretty precarious position because he has to give a hell of a lot of weight away. It is at least a limited handicap and that's why we decided to come here."
Officials at Ffos Las are thrilled to be racing after the recent battering south-west Wales has taken from the elements. Clerk of the course Tim Long said: "It's going to be wet, heavy, sloppy ground - that isn't going to change - but it's been a fair drying day.
"Although it could get down to freezing overnight, it promises to be a dry, bright Saturday, with temperatures of 5C or 6C, so there won't be any problems."