No doubts that Thomas can make the jump up to the top level
Stayers' Hurdle surely on the agenda now for Campbell
With the main protagonists for the Stayers' Hurdle not looking bombproof, it might well be worth taking a chance with the progressive 16-1 shot Thomas Campbell, who has made remarkable improvement since being stepped up to three miles.
The Nicky Henderson-trained five-year-old finished fifth in the Martin Pipe at last year's festival before a fourth at Aintree behind stablemate Rather Be – but he has definitely thrived for a greater test of stamina this season.
On his latest start at Cheltenham he comfortably beat Anteros, showing plenty of grit in the closing stages, and he is worth a look to lift this crown in what might not be a vintage year for the division.
Last season's hero Nichols Canyon was slightly disappointing on his reappearance and Unowhatimeanharry seems to have hit a plateau – he could only finish second behind Beer Goggles in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury recently.
Thomas Campbell, a son of Yeats, is entered in the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot in a couple of weeks and that could be his next port of call. It also suggests his connections are no longer thinking of him as merely a handicapper. Given his progress -he has already achieved an RPR of 159, he can prove his worth in Graded company. Granted he does have a bit to find with the big guns, but at his tender age it is not beyond the realms of imagination that he makes the leap.
Henderson also has the French Champion Hurdle winner L'Ami Serge as a contender too but this talented gelding can often frustrate at the finish. Unlike his stablemate, Thomas Campbell has shown a tough-as-teak streak on his two runs this season and has also shown he can act on either good or slower ground.
Arguably one of the biggest dangers to all is the hugely talented mare Apple's Jade. Given the mares' allowance too, she is a leading player. Trainer Gordon Elliott has, however, stressed that she will attempt to retain her mares' title at the festival rather than go for this.