Only a small field left at the five day declaration stage, but it is a fascinating little contest with a number of potential Champion Hurdle outsiders looking to put down an early each way marker this season.
IN SUMMARY: The ground at Haydock is likely to be heavy so this will be a real slog and that might not suit a horse coming back off a layoff. My Tent Or Yours is without doubt the best of these at their best but he will bump into the fit OLD GUARD of the Paul Nicholls’ stable who should have that edge in the closing stages if it becomes a head to head jumping the last. He also likes heavy ground a bit more than the Henderson horse and for all he has a bit to find on the figures, he looks the clear value in the race.
1 Melodic Rendezvous – Long time ‘go to’ for deep ground races, with six of his eight career wins coming on heavy. His last win over hurdles was February 2014 with age appearing to catch up with him last campaign. As admirable a veteran as he is, it’s hard to make a case for him giving the principals much to think about.
2 My Tent Or Yours – While Sprinter Sacre returning to reclaim his Champion Chase crown was the training performance of last season, My Tent Or Yours finishing runner up in the Champion Hurdle wasn’t far behind. He failed to run to the same level in two subsequent starts but this looks considerably his easiest assignment since returning. The current good to soft ground is fine with connections unlikely to want too many of the forecast showers to fall.
3 Old Guard – No surprise to see Paul Nicholls bring his charge back over hurdles given the scant regard he has given the bigger obstacles in a pair of starts this year. He was a rapid improver last season, winning Cheltenham’s Greatwood and International Hurdles, giving rise to a few murmurs of a potential each way play in the Champion Hurdle itself. He missed the Festival, coming back stiff behind in his last piece of work and providing the chase runs haven’t let a mark, the five year old could be a spot of value in the field.
4 Ch’Tibello – The lowest rated of the field, last season’s Scottish Champion Hurdle winner looks to make his mark at a stronger level. He ran well for a long way on his Ascot return but not for the first time found less than looked likely off the bridle. Every chance that there is improvement to come but on the bare face of it, looks to have more than enough on his plate.