Closely matched Wholestone and West Approach clash again
Neptune Investment Management Hyde Novices' Hurdle | 4yo+ | Grade 2 | 2m5f | CH4/RUK
Wholestone and West Approach, first and second in a novice event at the last Cheltenham meeting, rise in grade but drop in distance to reprise their rivalry.
Just half a length separated the pair in October as Wholestone continued his unbeaten start to the season, but the pair now meet on level terms, West Approach having been in receipt of 3lb last time they met over three miles.
Among their opponents is Peregrine Run, who bids for a four-timer, his latest victory gained in a Listed contest at Limerick last month.
Coneygree, the 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, is among the future stars who have won this race before. Diamond Harry, the 2010 Hennessy Gold Cup winner, was another, while last year's contest fell to Shantou Village.
Only one horse in the last ten years, Fingal Bay, has successfully carried a 7lb penalty to victory and there are four in this race with that burden - Crosshue Boy, Peregrine Run, West Approach and Wholestone.
What they say
Peter Fahey, trainer of Peregrine Run
He travelled over well. It looks very competitive and a stronger race than he has been running in. We're hoping he'll measure up and run a good race.
Colin Tizzard, trainer of West Approach
Two miles five or three come much the same to him. We sat him in last time so he would learn to settle and so when they quickened he didn't quite go with them as quick. There isn't much between him and the horse that beat him.
Nigel Twiston-Davies, trainer of Wholestone
He has done nothing wrong all season. He'll probably have to up his game a bit with the penalty, but I hope he's up to it.
Charlie Longsdon, trainer of Leith Hill Lad
It's a massive step up in class with some quite highly touted horses in the race. His novice hurdle form has worked out with the horse he beat at Kempton winning yesterday at Bangor.
Nicky Henderson, trainer of Baden
He's a very nice horse and ran some good races in high-class novice company last year. He's a gross horse who we need to get started and he'll make a lovely chaser next season.
Ben Pauling, trainer of Bally Gilbert
I thought a huge amount of him last season. He got beaten by Mount Mews at Market Rasen, a track that was too sharp for him. Mount Mews has since won very impressively by ten lengths under a penalty. A step up to two and a half is what he needs. He's there to run nicely but it looks a very competitive race to start him off in. We still think a lot of him.
Dan Skelton, trainer of Spiritofthegames
It's a massive step up from winning a maiden hurdle at Ayr but we like him. He has a good attitude, jumps well, and should be fine on the track. This should tell us where we aim for the rest of the season.