'He has every chance' - in-form Hobbs confident in Persian War winner Camprond
Friday: 1.55 Cheltenham
Ballymore Novices' Hurdle | 2m4f | 4yo+ | RTV
Is it safe to back a British novice hurdler at Cheltenham yet? That is the question for those who supported the home team at the festival and will not be keen on throwing good money after bad.
The Irish first-season hurdlers got much the better of the argument last March, when they won the Supreme, Ballymore and Albert Bartlett, landing first and second in the first two races for good measure.
Those Grade 1 events are clearly much more highly prized than this Class 2 contest, which has stayed at home in all bar one of the last nine years.
Yet the Gordon Elliott-trained Mars Harper is clearly a fairly useful novice. He has run to a consistent level of form through an eight-race campaign over hurdles and produced a career-high Racing Post Rating when landing a second success at Down Royal last time out.
Camprond is another hurdler with plenty of experience who reached a new high when winning the Persian War Novices’ Hurdle at Chepstow on his ninth run over hurdles.
That 2m3½f race showed him in a much better light than when he was beaten at 2-5 in a slowly run 2m½f event at Stratford previously, and his previous fine efforts in hot handicaps at Aintree and Haydock suggest he's suited by big fields and a strong pace.
However, he is top rated by 14lb on RPRs in the absence of Elliott's original first-string, Off Your Rocco, who was withdrawn on Thursday.
For all that a small line-up may not be ideal, he ought to win.
What they say
Philip Hobbs, trainer of Camprond
He won the Persian War well at Chepstow and this is his last chance as a novice. With Off Your Rocco out, he has every chance.
Gordon Elliott, trainer of Mars Harper
Mars Harper is probably a bit wrong at the weights but he's got plenty of experience under his belt.
Fergal O'Brien, trainer of All Clenched Up
She's won one and she ran well when third at Warwick last time.
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