Cheltenham International Hurdle tips – Runner-by-runner guide and preview
We take a look at the big race field for Saturday’s main event at Cheltenham and give our International Hurdle tips to win the day’s feature.
The feature race of the two-day Cheltenham International Meeting, the International Hurdle goes to post at 3.00pm as the sixth race on what promises to be a stellar racecard which also includes the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup.
Boasting a field of ten high-class runners each vying for the £63,000+ first prize, the Grade Two highlight is an early season trial for the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival although the last to do the International Hurdle and Champion Hurdle was Rooster Booster back in 2002/03.
More recently Nigel Twiston-Davies’ The New One was a regular winner of this contest, taking top honours three times while top trainer Nicky Henderson has won the last three renewals of the race.
TV punters will be able to see the latest renewal of this fantastic Grade Two contest live on ITV Racing and we’ve looked over the big-race field where we give our International Hurdle tips for Saturday’s Cheltenham feature race.
INTERNATIONAL HURDLE TIPS – RUNNER-BY-RUNNER GUIDE & PREVIEW
Triple-winner on the flat who quickly replicated that feat when switched to hurdling, looking a top-class prospect in reeling off wide-margin wins at Fontwell, Sandown and Ascot prior to heading to the Cheltenham Festival where he would have bolted in in the Triumph Hurdle but for falling at the last when well clear.
Gary Moore’s charge is entitled to have needed his reappearance effort on the level at Haydock in September although he failed to beat a rival; but he fared better at Goodwood next time, finishing third to Natural History although it is a shade worrying that he was sent off a strong favourite for both of those starts and he failed to deliver.
The Authorized gelding could prove very hard to beat if coming back to his best reverting to hurdles and is none the worse for his fall; but potential for quicker ground may not be ideal given his winning form over timber has all come in the mud.
He remains an outstanding and still unexposed talent so every chance he can go close if his last-flight fall hasn’t affected confidence but he takes on older horses for the first time and this will represent a different test.
SONG FOR SOMEONE
Progressive sort for Tom Symonds since joining the yard from France and he’s only once finished out of the first three over timber .
Last season was something of a breakthrough campaign for the Medicean gelding, winning twice which included a first Graded success at Kempton when taking the Kingwell Hurdle and he backed up that victory on his reappearance with a five lengths’ victory over Call Me Lord back at Ascot in the Coral Hurdle last month.
He might ideally be suited by a stiffer test on the evidence of his reappearance and probably needs to step up again; but there’s certainly scope for better still and he’s well worth his place in this line-up where he can post a big run.
Spent the last couple of seasons over fences where h collected a couple of wins and he ran some solid runs in defeat including chasing home Altior in the Game Spirit Chase back in February.
Alan King’s charge however failed to fire on his final outing over fences in the Champion Chase and following wind surgery he has returned to hurdling for this campaign where he is 2-3 with victories at Ffos Las and Wincanton, beating Teqany impressively in the Elite Hurdle.
There was no caste lost in defeat behind Epatante in the recent Fighting Fifth Hurdle and the Doctor Dino gelding ought to go well again back at this level and he’s dangerous to discount from calculations with trip and ground ideal while he’s also a past course and distance winner over hurdles and fences.
Struck his last victory in the 20198 County Hurdle over this course and distance and Dan Skelton’s charge has proven a reliable sort since with a number of solid runs in defeat including in this race twelve months ago where he finished third behind Call Me Lord.
Fifth to Epatante at Kempton subsequently and then third to Song For Someone back at the Sunbury track he missed last season’s Cheltenham Festival and underwent wind surgery. But he looked as good as ever when finding only Summerville Boy too strong at Aintree on his reappearance last month and he’s entitled to strip fitter for the run.
The Sageburg gelding should continue to give a good account but he’s yet to win at this level and this looks a very decent renewal. While he can run his usual gallant race others may just have his measure and no surprise to see him coming up short again.
While he was useful earlier in his career he has been something of a late bloomer over hurdles and he’s proven well suited to this venue so the Dark Angel gelding could well prove a solid each-way proposition for punters looking to take on the favourite.
The 2018 Welsh Champion Hurdle winner posted successive runner-up efforts over this course and distance, including in this race behind Brain Power and he returned here in March the following year to post a very creditable third to Espoir D’Allen in the Champion Hurdle.
Last term he kick started his season winning a Listed contest at Kempton and following subsequent in-the-frame efforts in Grade Ones, including the Fighting Fifth he returned for an other Champion Hurdle tilt where he finished sixth .
Evan Williams’ charge won the same Kempton race as he did last year on his latest reappearance and he was fancied to give Epatante something to think about in the latest Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle but was carried out by a loose horse at the second obstacles.
Drying ground is a positive although he’s effective on softer ground but likely won’t want it too testing; while his record here is solid and it would be no surprise to see him firmly in the mix.
Tough and consistent hurdler who finished runner-up in this twelve months ago and Nigel Twiston-Davies’ charge is set to give another big run if recent efforts are any indication.
The Kayf Tara sort has proven himself to be a very decent performer both over hurdles and fences, but he spent last term over the smaller obstacles where he got back on the scoresheet at Haydock in January when winning the Champion Hurdle Trial – a race made synonymous with former stablemate The New One.
Subseqently eighth in the Champion Hurdle proper he has finished runner-up in both outings this tern, behind Sceau Royal at Ffos Las and then over this course latest when denied three lengths by The Shunter in the Greatwood Hurdle.
It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him involved again with ground no issue, but his tendency to find one too good is a concern and he may come up short again at this level.
CALL ME LORD
Won this race last season and one of two in the race for Nicky Henderson.
A high-class performer the Slickly gelding hasn’t managed to win since but he has continued to run well in defeat, finishing runner-up at Sandown and then shaping better than the result in the Champion Hurdle despite beating only a handful of runners home.
He may have needed his reappearance at Aintree when fourth to Summerville Boy, but he was beaten fair and square by the improving Song For Someone at Ascot in the Coral Hurdle and on that performance has a bit to find in order to overturn that form.
This title defence also asks for improvement from the Seven Barrows inmate as he carries 6lbs more than when beating Ballyandy by a head in the race twelve months ago and the additional weight might just find him out.
Has been something of a cliff-horse for this author and Tom George’s charge appeared to relish the return to hurdling when winning the Relkeel Hurdle here on New Years’ Day having proven a shade underwhelming over the larger obstacles.
Stepped up to three miles for the Cleeve Hurdle he found only Paisley Park too strong, but he failed to back up that peformance in the Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival next time.
The Sandmason gelding has always shaped like a stayer, but three miles does just stretch him and following a reappearance win at Aintree where he beat a couple of these rivals he could only finish fourth back at the longer trip when last seen at Newbury in the Long Distance Hurdle.
A galloping sort, it is hard to imagine he’ll have the speed now to cope with a marked drop in trip to two miles over hurdles despite winning at the trip over fences and winning the 2018 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle over this distance.
Very smart mare who caused an upset in beating Buveur D’air in the 2018 Christmas Hurdle before going on to finish fifth to Espoir D’allen in that season’s Champion Hurdle.
The second of Nicky Henderson’s runners, the Doctor Dino mare is winless since her victory in the Scottish Champion Hurdle last year and her two runs this term has seen her finish runner-up both times which includes being beaten six lengths by Silver Streak at Kempton in October.
Also denied latest at Wetherby in Listed company where she found less than expected under pressure she could again find a couple too strong although any drying of the ground would be in her favour. She also gets plenty of weight from her rivals, but while she can give another good account she might be at her best on flatter, sharper tracks and the Getaway mare is 0-4 here.
High-class mare who won Grade Three contests for Willie Mullins and chased home Roksana in the 2019 Mares’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
The Motivator mare won three times last term before coming up short behind Honeysuckle in the Mares’ Hurdle and she’s since joined Paul Nicholls for whom she’s finished runner-up in both her starts for the Ditcheat handler.
Both those runs have come over fences at Newton Abbot and Bangor and she reverts to hurdling for this latest outing where she looks to face a very stiff test. She could go well of course but others look to boast stronger credentials for this race and likely she’ll find a couple too good.
INTERNATIONAL HURDLE TIPS – BIG-RACE SELECTION
Goshen could be hard to beat if over his Festival fall here back in March but recent runs on the flat have been underwhelming. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Gary Moore’s charge going close despite taking on older company now.
Song For Someone is improving and is dangerous to discount along with Sceau Royal and SILVER STREAK who was unlucky to have been carried out by a loose horse at the second obstacle in the recent Fighting Fifth Hurdle.
Evan Williams’ charge has proven himself a very capable and smart hurdler and the Dark Angel gelding has contested the last two Champion Hurdles where he finished third in 2019. He also finished runner-up in the 2018 renewal of this race and he has a solid record overall at this venue.
Having won well on his return to action at Kempton he could be set for another big run with the ground unlikely to present a problem and every chance he can go close here. He gets the vote to resume winning ways and gain some compensation for his misfortune at Newcastle last month.