Vaniteux Sunday Best In Greatwood Hurdle
The final day of this weekend’s three-day Open Meeting at Cheltenham sees a cracking renewal of the Grade 3 Greatwood Hurdle in which Nicky Henderson’s top weight, Vaniteux, has dominated the market at 3/1, since betting first opened.
This 5yo was last seen finishing a creditable third (beaten 6l) in the Grade 1 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle over Sunday’s C&D, and arrives with the ideal profile, being a lightly raced type at the right end of the market…
Of the last 10 Greatwood Hurdle winners…
10 returned 12/1 or shorter
10 had a maximum of 10 handicap runs – others were 0-66
9 were 4-6yo’s
9 ran in Listed class or better last time – others were 1-87
9 had a maximum of one run during last 90 days
P Hobbs won it twice
But, there will be plenty of punters seeking value against the favourite in such a big field, including David Pipe’s, Baltimore Rock, at 9/1. This 5yo won a similar valuable 2m handicap hurdle at Sandown in April (soft), before beaten 9l in a Grade 2 when last seen in April. The drop back in class will help, and any support for him in the run-up to the race could be significant.
Another of the big guns is represented by Willie Mullins’, Clondaw Warrior (5/1), who also attracted support following his November Handicap win on the Flat last month (1m7f, yielding). As a winner of just a maiden over hurdles (from seven runs), he is open to improvement, but will need to find it as a 7yo against younger rivals.
Had Phil Middleton’s 6yo, Exitas, been trained by a more distinguished name in the training ranks, then he may not be available at 8/1 following three consecutive handicap wins this autumn – two of which were fairly valuable affairs. The handicapper raised him a stone for that last win at Sandown a week ago (2m, soft), but he gets in under a 5lb penalty, making him 9lb “well-in” for Sunday.
Also amongst the fancied runners is Jonjo O’Neill’s, Goodwood Mirage (8/1), who made a winning return when winning a handicap at Wetherby last month (2m, good), in the process recording a clear career best. This 4yo is clearly on the upgrade and can improve further after just five runs.
Also to be considered for Sunday is Philip Hobbs’ 5yo, Garde La Victoire (12/1), who also improved on his reappearance via a 3l third in a valuable handicap at Aintree last month (2m1f, good). That would have teed him up nicely for this, and Hobbs knows what it takes to get one ready for this having won it twice since 2006.
With each of the last 10 Greatwood winners having returned at 12/1 or shorter, it could pay to stick with those in the top dozen or so of the betting.
With that in mind, the classy 3/1 favourite, Vaniteux, ticks all the boxes and could land this on the way to better things.