Runner-by-runner guide to the Unibet International Hurdle at Cheltenham

By Harry Allwood@H_Allwood1
Wed 12 Dec 2018

Watch interviews, vital galloping clues and read Harry Allwood’s verdict on the ten potential runners in the Grade Two contest on Saturday.

Click here to view the International Hurdle racecard.

Exciting mare Laurina, who has not been seen since winning at Punchestown in April, was the odds-on favourite for the £140,000 Unibet International Hurdle at Cheltenham on Saturday but is likely to miss the race due to unfavourable ground conditions.

Bookmakers now make last season's Supreme Novices' Hurdle winner Summerville Boy the general 9-4 favourite and he will bid to bounce back to form after disappointing on his seasonal debut.

He will face a maximum of nine rivals and, although the race was reopened on Monday due to a lack of entries, an intriguing renewal looks in store.

Nigel Twiston-Davies confirmed The New One, who has won this race three times, could be retired on Saturday if he does not show his old sparkle, which he has not done on his last three starts.

Nicky Henderson seeks his fifth win in the two-mile contest and has entered Call Me Lord, We Have A Dream and Brain Power.

Here is a guide to all potential runners.

Horse: Summerville Boy

Trainer: Tom George

General odds: 9-4

Watch Summerville Boy's victory in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle

Landed the Grade One Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown in January this year before he overcame interference to win the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Festival on his next start.

Looked a horse with a bright future before he disappointed in the Fighting Fifth on his seasonal debut where he finished last of the four finishers, one place behind Vision Des Flos.

On the form of his two Grade One wins he will go close, and he is yet to finish out of the frame in three starts at Cheltenham, but there was no obvious excuse for him at Newcastle and he needs to bounce back to form.

Horse: Old Guard

Trainer: Paul Nicholls

General odds: 5-1

Old Guard stayed on to finish third in the Greatwood Hurdle in November

Consistent hurdler who won this race in 2015 and finished a respectable fifth behind My Tent Or Yours in last year’s renewal.

Has run four good races in defeat this season including a close third in the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham in November and found only the exciting If The Cap Fits too good at Ascot last time out.

Has won three times at Cheltenham and is likely to run his race once again, but two miles may be on the sharp side for him these days.

Horse: The New One

Trainer: Nigel Twiston-Davies

General odds: 12-1

The New One finished second in this race last year

Has been a model of consistency during his illustrious career and won this race in 2013, 2014 and 2016.

Finished second behind My Tent Or Yours in last year’s renewal and, although he may not be the force of old, a reproduction of that run would make him a leading contender here. He has also won six times at Cheltenham.

However, he has run below par in his last three starts and connections have raised the possibility of retirement for the ten-year-old if he does not show his old sparkle on Saturday.

Horse: We Have A Dream

Trainer: Nicky Henderson

General odds: 5-1

We Have A Dream faded into fourth in the Coral Hurdle at Ascot

Remained unbeaten in five starts after joining Nicky Henderson last season and ended his campaign with an impressive win in the Grade One Juvenile Hurdle at Aintree.

However, he has run below par in two starts this season and finished behind Old Guard at Ascot last time out, although he may not have stayed the extra trip.

The step back down to two miles is sure to suit and, although he has not run at Cheltenham before, there should be more to come from him this season.

Horse: Brain Power

Trainer: Nicky Henderson

General odds: 5-1

Brain Power's last success over hurdles came in a Grade Three at Ascot in December 2016

Won a valuable Grade Three handicap hurdle at Ascot in December 2016 before he disappointed in the Champion Hurdle, although he did have excuses, and finished a close fifth in the Punchestown Champion Hurdle on his final start over the smaller obstacles.

Things have not gone to plan since he embarked on a campaign over fences and has failed to complete in three of his six starts over the larger obstacles.

A case can be made for him if he produces the form he showed when last seen over hurdles and, although he has clearly had problems during his career, he is a high-class performer on his day.

Horse: Call Me Lord

Trainer: Nicky Henderson

General odds: 8-1

Our experts analyse Call Me Lord's win in the Select Hurdle

Progressed nicely last season and posted a couple of useful efforts in defeat before producing an impressive performance to win the Grade Two Select Hurdle at Sandown on his final start.

That was also his first start over 2m5f but has won three times over two miles and is versatile ground-wise.

With a rating of 160, he is the highest rated on official figures, and would be a threat to all if he does run.

However, going right-handed suits him best and may run in the JLT Hurdle at Ascot on December 22 instead.

Horse: Silver Streak

Trainer: Evan Williams

General odds: 8-1

Our experts discuss Silver Streak's performance in the Greatwood Hurdle

Has won five times since joining Evan Williams and ended last season with a win in the Swinton Hurdle at Haydock off a rating of 132.

Produced a career best last time out to finish a close second in the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham and now finds himself on a career-high mark of 150.

The five-year-old may not have finished improving yet and deserves his place in this grade, even though he does have a bit to find, and would not want the ground to be soft.

Horse: Vision Des Flos

Trainer: Colin Tizzard

General odds: 10-1

Vision Des Flos finished second behind Lalor in a Grade One at Aintree last season

Has not got his head in front since he recorded his first success for this yard in a Listed race at Exeter in February after a wind operation but finished runner-up in two Grade Ones at Aintree and Punchestown.

Did not get his chasing career off to a great start when he unseated his rider at Ffos Las in October and has reverted to hurdles on his last two starts.

Ran respectably when third behind Buveur D’Air in the Fighting Fifth this month and is sure to have more to offer, although he will need to up his game to trouble the main protagonists here.

Horse: Western Ryder

Trainer: Warren Greatrex

General odds: 12-1

Western Ryder defeated Lalor and Summerville Boy at Cheltenham 12 months ago

Has always been held in high regard and looked unlucky not to finish closer than sixth in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Festival.

The six-year-old shaped as though he needed the run when he raced keenly and faded into fifth in the Greatwood Hurdle on his seasonal debut and is entitled to strip fitter now.

Although he will need to take another step forward, he was a winner over course and distance 12 months ago and he should have more to offer this season.

Horse: Unison

Trainer: Jeremy Scott

General odds: 40-1

Unison has plenty to find with the others

Consistent handicapper who has won eight times over hurdles and finished a close third in a class two handicap hurdle at Huntingdon last time out.

Does have a lot to find with his rivals here though, and it is hard to make a case for him. The eight-year-old also holds an entry at Doncaster and Hereford on Saturday.

Harry Allwood’s verdict:

Summerville Boy is the one to beat if he returns to the form of his win in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. Despite the fact he needs to put his below-par run in the Fighting Fifth behind him, it is too soon to be writing Tom George’s youngster off.

Brain Power has the ability to run well, although he has shown his best form on flat tracks.

However, it is worth siding with We Have A Dream. He looked in need of the run on his seasonal debut at Wincanton and didn’t see out the trip in the Coral Hurdle last time out having travelled well throughout the race.

Although the four-year-old does need to prove he handles Cheltenham, the step back down in trip will suit, and he could potentially get an easy lead if only a small number of runners turn up.

More Latest News

This video is playing in Picture-In-Picture. Click to Exit.
This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.