Laurina among star-studded entries for International Hurdle

Tue 11 Dec 2018

Laurina features among 11 contenders for the Unibet International Hurdle at Cheltenham on Saturday.

The Grade Two contest was reopened on Monday due to a lack of entries, but a quality renewal looks in store.

Laurina is unbeaten in four starts since joining Willie Mullins, most notably destroying her rivals by upwards of 18 lengths in the Trull House Stud Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

She is a best priced 5-1 second-favourite to lift the Champion Hurdle at Prestbury Park next spring ahead of her potential seasonal reappearance this weekend, with dual winner Buveur D’Air the even-money market leader to retain his crown.

Willie Mullins on the attributes of Laurina

Buveur D’Air’s trainer, Nicky Henderson, has three possible runners in this Grade Two contest in Brain Power – who has proved largely disappointing over fences – Call Me Lord and We Have A Dream.

The Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained The New One won the International Hurdle in 2013, 2014 and 2016, plus was runner-up last year.

He is set to return for another shot on what connections have revealed could be his swansong if he is unable to rediscover his spark.

Paul Nicholls could saddle another previous winner in 2015 victor Old Guard, while Silver Streak may attempt to go one better than when runner-up in the Greatwood Hurdle at the track last month.

Tom George’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner Summerville Boy – who disappointed in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle on his return – is a possible.

Tom George, his trainer, said on Tuesday: "Summerville Boy has come out of the Fighting Fifth fine.

"The Fighting Fifth was his first run of the season and whilst that form was way below his Supreme Novices' win, he has been all right since and nothing has come to light with all the tests he has had.

"It was disappointing, but we have to move on and he was taking on top-class two millers on his first start of the season.

"The Unibet International Hurdle is an option - we will see how he is during the week. I am not sure about the Christmas Hurdle around Kempton, but there aren't many options."

Colin Tizzard’s Vision Des Flos, the Warren Greatrex-trained Western Ryder and Unison from Jeremy Scott’s yard are the other hopefuls.

Unibet International Hurdle, the sponsor bets: 4-5 Laurina; 5-1 Summerville Boy; 6-Brain Power; 7-1 Call Me Lord, Western Ryder; 8-1 The New One, Old Guard, Silver Streak, We Have A Dream; 14-1 Vision Des Flos; 33-1 Unison.

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