I MUST admit my heart skipped a beat when I noticed that EPATANTE was entered only for the Champion Hurdle and not the Mares’ event at the Cheltenham Festival.
Trainer Nicky Henderson quickly admitted it was an oversight but that didn’t stop the former winner’s odds being cut to as short as 16s when we’re on at 50s.
Hopefully it’s indicative of the mindset at Seven Barrows that the Champion Hurdle is Epatante’s target – and it will cost a few grand to supplement her for the Mares’ now which is another incentive not to bother.
Given that 8-1 defending champion Honeysuckle could have been retired by the time Cheltenham comes along – depending on how she runs at the Dublin Racing Festival – that looks more like the right price to chase home stablemate Constitution Hill who remains a 1-3 shot.
Henderson did remember to put defending champion Marie’s Rock in the Mares’ Hurdle but, with the prospect of Honeysuckle or Epatante turning up, her odds of 5-2 don’t look the most appealing for all she was impressive at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day.
With both races, if you haven’t had a bet yet it’s probably best to wait now until we see the final fields – the big prices have gone.
Our long-range fancy for the Stayers’ Hurdle – TEAHUPOO has been entered which is good to see.
He is around the same 12-1 we advised last month.
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He is a little ground dependent given it was testing when he got the better of Klassical Dream in the Hatton’s Grace.
It’s worth looking for a contender who won’t mind if conditions are a bit quicker come March and that horse is PAISLEY PARK who looks good each-way value at 14s.
Plenty – possibly myself included – thought Emma Lavelle’s star was over the hill but he shut us right up when winning the Long Walk at Kempton's Christmas meeting.
That track won’t have been ideal for him so to beat a useful field so easily was a top effort.
He has a win and a place in the Stayers’ to his name and his Kempton effort was as good as anything we’ve seen from him.
BET: PAISLEY PARK each-way for the Stayers’ Hurdle at 14-1
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