A waiting game for Walters
FFOS Las supremo Dai Walters is readying himself to play a waiting game as the stamina of his best known horse is tested to the limit in today’s World Hurdle.
Oscar Whisky was vanquished in the 2012 contest, branded as a non-stayer by the most faithful of punters, but returns for one more crack in the absence of the mighty Big Bucks.
The eight-year-old, trained by man of the moment Nicky Hen-derson, enjoys Cheltenham and has come up its punishing hill in front three times.
The drying ground is in his favour, but the trip is the question mark, as all the son of Oscar’s best form is over two and a half miles.
At heart, Welsh owner Walters must be doubtful whether he will stay, as he paid £1,000 to keep him in the two-mile Champion Hurdle until a late stage.
Henderson describes it as an open race and has suggested jockey Barry Geraghty can be more aggressive on top, as Oscar Whisky was just touched off by today’s rival Reve De Sivola over course and distance last time, on much more testing ground.
But I think the interesting one here is Smad Place, who finished ahead of Oscar Whisky in the 2012 race, coming third.
Trainer Alan King was in luck yesterday with Medinas and things have not gone to plan for the grey this season.
It could be that the ground has not been to his liking and we know he will relish every yard of the uphill climb to the line.
Each-way backers could do worse than Celestial Halo, who has the ability to run into the frame at 33-1 Dynaste is all the rage for race one, but Captain Conan is a most imposing type and one to have on your side to do battle.
Like the favourite, the six-year-old has won over course and distance and sidestepped the Arkle and a clash with the same stable’s Simonsig for this.
I think Tom Scudamore has been riding well this season and I may have to eat my words if Pipe’s banker triumphs, but Geraghty’s hold-up style is preferable round here.
It could be the Henderson show once again in the Ryanair, as last year’s victor Riverside Theatre is a good price to follow up.
First Lieutenant and Cue Card head the market, as the nine-year-old has to bounce back from a King George disappointment.
Given a break, he should be right up there at the finish which I expect to be tight.
The Cross Country chase should finally get under way after the inside track was not fit to race on Tuesday.
I’m sticking with original pick Any Currency to finish in the first three.