Racing

Mouchoir has more than a Petit chance in Champion Hurdle

Petit Mouchoir gets used to his surroundings at Cheltenham yesterday. The Henry de Bromhead-trained runner can give the Irish another Champion Hurdle success this afternoon Picture: PA
Mouchoir has more than a Petit chance in Champion Hurdle

There is little doubt that this afternoon's Champion Hurdle is a below-par renewal of a great race, hardly worthy of having the word 'champion' in its title.

With the probability of drying ground, it would seem conditions might favour Brain Power from the trio that trainer Nicky Henderson runs in the race. He's clearly been put away to wait for better ground after his impressive handicap victories and deserves a chance at this level.

The other major Henderson hope Buveur D'Air looks a far better horse with cut in the ground and the likely quicker surface here could leave him somewhat vulnerable.

Yanworth has some high-class hurdling form to his name and will appreciate a strongly-run race although there still remains a nagging doubt about his jumping under pressure and the fact that he may not quite have the gears for this.

The novice Moon Racer adds an extra dimension tand comes here with just two hurdles runs, and wins, to his name and it's a brave decision by connections to run him although his lack of experience could well be a problem.

Irish trainers have taken the last four renewals of this race and Petit Mouchoir gives us a good chance of making it five.

His dominant running style could give him an easy time on the front end and his overall form matches anything in this race.

The Willie Mullins duo of Wicklow Brave and Footpad both look capable of outrunning their odds for a man who has trained the last two winners in Faugheen and Annie Power.

Both My Tent Or Yours, now a 10-year-old and second twice in the race including when beaten by Annie Power 12 months ago, and The New One, fourth in the same race, will appreciate the lower standard of this year's renewal and the pair cannot be dismissed.

It is long odds-on about an Irish-trained winner in the Grade One Mares' Hurdle where we field five of the 16 runners, headed by the Mullins pair of Limini (Ruby Walsh) and Vroum Vroum Mag (Paul Townend).

I confess to being somewhat bemused by Ruby's decision to partner Limini rather than last year's winner of the race Vroum Vroum Mag.

Mullins has made this his own race with Quevega racking up six consecutive wins and the trainer bids for nine in-a-row.

Which one? Limini was diverted here instead of taking her chance in the Champion Hurdle and perhaps Ruby will be proved correct.

Half of the 14 runners in the opening Supreme Novices' Hurdle are Irish-trained, with Mullins responsible for four of them including favourite Melon.

A wide-margin winner of a bad Leopardstown maiden in late January, he runs in the colours of the wife of former bookmaker Joe Donnelly. Maximum respect afforded.

Nicky Henderson's Altior is hardly opposable in the Arkle at 1/4, while Joseph O'Brien has his first Cheltenham runner with 152-rated Edwulf in the JT McNamara Amateur Riders' Novice Chase, the four-miler.

He should be difficult to beat but Noel Meade's A Genie in Abottle might give him plenty to do.

The novice handicap chase, which concludes the card, has 20 runners with just 5 lb between the top and bottom weights.

There are six Irish-trained runners, three of them Henry de Bromhead's.

Tully East might spring a minor surprise under Denis O'Regan for Alan Fleming.

Neville Ring

1.30 Melon

2.10 Altior

2.50 Noble Endeavor

3.30 Petit Mouchoir (Dbl)

4.10 Limini (Nap)

4.50 Edwulf

5.30 Tully East

Next Best

1.30 Ballyandy

2.10 Royal Caviar

2.50 Measureofmydreams

3.30 Brain Power

4.10 Vroum Vroum Mag

4.50 A Genie in Abottle

5.30 Hammersly Lake

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