The Racing Horse is excited about Saturday as we go racing to Cheltenham to watch our horse Pentland Hills make if four from four for his army of owners and trainer Nicky Henderson. We measure our horse against the trends and note many of the key elements are satisfied and in particular three of the top four.
* denotes fitting the trends
3.05 Cheltenham: Unibet International Hurdle (Grade 2) 2m1f ITV4
17/17: Raced over hurdles at Cheltenham previously (100%) *
15/17: Placed in top 3 in latest race (88%) *
15/17: Raced within last 6 weeks (88%)
14/17: Won over 2m1f+ (hurdles) previously (82%) *
14/17: Won 4 or more times over hurdles previously (82%)
13/17: Won by a horse aged 7yo or younger (76%) *
13/17: Ran in Champion Hurdle later that season (5 placed) (76%) *
12/17: Favourites placed (71%) *
11/17: Won latest race (65%) *
11/17: Winning favourites (1 joint) (65%) *
11/17: Priced 5/2 or shorter (65%) *
11/17: Won over hurdles at Cheltenham previously (65%) *
..9/17: Won by a horse aged either 4 or 5yo (53%) *
..9/17: Rated 162 or higher (53%)
..7/17: Winning distance: 4+ lengths (41%)
..6/17: Won Greatwood Hurdle (Cheltenham) last time out (35%)
..4/17: Won by a French-bred horse (24%)
..4/17: Ridden by jockey Richard Johnson (24%)
..4/17: Trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies (24%)
..4/17: Trained by Nicky Henderson (24%) *
..3/17: Trained by Philip Hobbs (18%)
..3/17: Ridden by Sam Twiston-Davies (18%)
..3/17: Trained by Paul Nicholls (18%)
..3/17: Won Betfair Hurdle last time out (18%)
..3/17: Won by Irish-trained horse (18%)
..1/17: Won Champion Hurdle later that season (Rooster Booster 2002) (6%) *
31%: Nicky Henderson strike rate with hurdlers up to 2m 2f (PENTLAND HILLS & CALL ME LORD)
CALL ME LORD has a fitness edge over chief-form rivals Pentland Hills and Ch'tibello, and in receipt of weight from the pair, this could be the time to catch him. Pentland Hills enjoyed a faultless juvenile campaign and is prominent in the Champion Hurdle betting so he has to be accorded respect.
As we go to post Pentland Hills is trading as the 2/1 favourite but we have not bet just yet. We need to know the state of the ground but soft ground would not be a huge concern for us. His sire Motivator won three of his seven races on soft ground (his sire Montjeu excelled on soft to heavy) and his dam the German-bred Elle Gallante was campaigned on soft to heavy ground and one of her two wins was on soft. She has also produced the 8yo Camlann and his preference is soft to heavy. We fully expect the trainer to make nervous comments about the ground but if Pentland Hills is relatively fit he must win this Grade 2 with a kind trip!
Of his rivals
We rather the trainer had not entered the fit stablemate and 6yo Call Me Lord, which in effect means we do not only have to beat rival trainers, we have to beat another from the same stable, but the main rival looks to be the more experienced 8yo Ch'tibello for Dan Skelton. That one has the same 254 day break to overcome but has won on heavy ground but these are the type of horses we have to beat this season if we want to win the Champion Hurdle in March.
The Owners Group
The Racing Horse takes this opportunity to congratulate the fine work and modus operandi of Owners Group who bring racing to those who can only dream about being a part owner of a fabulous race horse. Their detail, honesty and transparency keeps thousands of owners informed but for us and most importantly, their commitment to the welfare of the individual horse is to be highly commended. Even though we bet professionally this is always our first concern. On a personal note we thank them for giving the opportunity to part-own a double Grade 1 winner and the JCB Triumph Hurdle in particular. With luck we hope to be at Cheltenham next year for the Champion Hurdle but first the Unibet International Hurdle.
The Racing Horse Verdict
1st: PENTLAND HILLS 9/4 2nd: Ch'tibello 8/1 (3rd) 3rd: Call Me Lord 7/2 (WINNER)
Today's Pacafi: click here
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