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Greatwood Hurdle preview

A rare quality Sunday meeting in Britain with the final day of the Open meeting at Cheltenham. The feature of the day is the Greatwood Hurdle, which holds more prestige to some than the PP Gold Cup on Saturday. Once again, Chris Day @chrisday100 takes the reins...

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Stanjames.com Greatwood Hurdle
15:15 Cheltenham
Grade 3, 2m 1/2f


The highlight of Sunday’s card, the Greatwood Hurdle is traditionally one of the strongest of the early season and been a pointer to the Champion Hurdle such is the race’s strength.

Topping the weights is Nicky Henderson’s Vaniteux, who ran third in a red hot Supreme Novices' Hurdle in March and ought to be capable of running very well from this sort of mark. His worst run of last season was on bad ground at Kempton on Boxing Day and, as he’s likely to encounter equally tough conditions on Sunday as favourite, I’ll let him go unbacked but accept he could make light of this rating.

Blue Heron looks slightly high in the weights on what he’s achieved but his astute trainer won the Ladbroke with a similar type last year and he may not be far away.

Phillip Hobbs has been in great form this Autumn and his record in this race bears the closest inspection so Garde La Victoire, who seemed to throw (away) a winning opportunity at Aintree on his seasonal debut, needs respecting over a trip which may suit him better. Largely untried in the ground, his stamina could prove an asset on the long climb to the line.

Roman Flight has been winning good races with the obvious hike in the weights as a result, Baltimore Rock won last season’s Imperial Cup and is only 5lbs higher now so must run well and Clondaw Warrior won the Irish November Handicap but needs to improve on what he’s shown over hurdles so far and his 5-1 price is surely more attributable to his undoubtedly shrewd connections than anything else.

Exitas won a far lesser race at Sandown pulling a cart last Saturday and he could really be anything but has been well backed in recent days and is a little short for now, Pearl Swan has form from two seasons ago which marks him down as leniently treated but I think may need further, Olofi has a long absence to overcome, Katgary needs to put a poor return at Aintree behind him, Regal Encore is a talking horse who needs to do it on the track and Pine Creek, Mijhaar and Raven’s Tower do not appear to have the right profiles here.

The one I like is Jonjo O’Neill’s Goodwood Mirage, who won a hotly contested Wetherby race when weak in the market for Tony McCoy who was stood down immediately after the race and obviously unable to offer his usual assistance from the saddle. The second that day, Lightening Rod, danced in off top weight in a course and distance race a couple of weeks ago and fifth, Secrete Stream, did similarly over a longer trip the following day.

Current connections went to 380,000 guineas to buy Goodwood Mirage from the flat and he’s obviously thought to be high class plus his flat form indicates that soft ground should not prove a hindrance.

I’ll take him (Goodwood Mirage) to win and make Garde La Victoire the each way play at current prices.

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