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2015 World Hurdle tips - Whisper can roar to Cheltenham Festival success in Thursday's staying championship

Whisper can land the World Hurdle for Nicky Henderson on Thursday (credit: Cheltenhampro.com)

Brian assesses the field for Thursday's feature race, the Ladbrokes World Hurdle, and he gives his big race tip for the stayers' championship race.


Day three at the Cheltenham Festival is all about the Grade One Ladbrokes World Hurdle, the premier staying hurdle race of the National Hunt season.

Won in the past by multiple champions in the shape of Big Buck’s, Baracouda and Inglis Drever, the race takes in three miles of Cheltenham’s New Course, and this year is without defending champion More Of That, who won the race twelve months ago.

With high profile defections of the fancied duo, Beat That and Rock On Ruby, as well as the loss of the defending champion, this latest renewal of the World Hurdle is wide open, and there are plenty of chances throughout the 17-runner field for the cracking Thursday contest that gets underway at 3.20pm.

Paul Nicholls boasts the front two in the betting, and the Ditcheat trainer saddles both Zarkandar and Saphir Du Rheu in the contest.

Zarkandar (9/2, Bet365) is already a Cheltenham Festival winner, having landed the 2011 Triumph Hurdle, but has been contesting staying contests for a good part of his career and was fourt in this race twelve months ago on his first try over three miles.

A Grade One winner over 2m 4f, and effective on a range of ground conditions, the Azamour gelding hasn’t stood much racing this term in order to keep him fresh for this assignment, and he’s ran just twice this term when winning over three miles at Auteil, and then narrowly touched off by Reve De Sivola at Ascot in the Long Walk Hurdle, where he was travelling best but found less than expected.

He looks sure to run well, but others could possibly prove stronger up the hill.


Zarkandar was fourth in the World Hurdle twelve months ago.

Saphir Du Rheu (9/2, Ladbrokes) returned to hurdles after enduring mixed fortunes over fences earlier in the season, and the Al Namix gelding was one of the most improved horses in training last season when winning three valuable contests in succession, including when beating Whisper in the Welsh Champion Hurdle.

Progress seemingly stalled in his next outing under a revised mark that was a mammoth 35lbs higher than when kicking off his season, when only fourth in the National Spirit Hurdle at Fontwell, and he was sent over fences for the new term.

Having unseated on his chase debut at Newbury, he won next time out at Exeter before falling at Kempton behind Coneygree.

Returned to hurdles after, he outbattled Reve De Sivola in the Cleeve Hurdle over course and distance, and he looks to hold solid claims in a wide open contest.


Saphir Du Rheu is a strong fancy for Thursday's World Hurdle.

The best of the Irish challengers looks to be Sandra Hughes’ Lieutenant Colonel (9/1, Ladbrokes) who beat the reopposing Jetson in the Hattons Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse, and posted a grand effort stepped up to three miles in the Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown when beating the same rival again, where he showed real determination on the run-in to overhaul Jessica Harrington’s front-runner.

Jetson (14/1, Coral) has gone close on a couple of occasions at the Festival in the past, both times in the Pertemps Final and showed he was capable of Grade One form when ending Quevega’s winning streak in the World Series Hurdle at Punchestown last May.

The bold front-running type has finished runner-up both starts this term, acts on the ground and is sure to make a bold bid from the front.

The admirable Reve De Sivola (25/1, Ladbrokes) is back for another crack at the race, and is a regular in these events.

Nick Williams’ tough gelding got the better of Zarkandar in the Long Walk Hurdle, and is clearly suited by a stiff test of stamina; however best form has come in the mud, and this quicker ground is likely to see him tapped for speed at the business end and he could manage eighth in this event twelve months ago.

Last season’s Coral Cup winner WHISPER (11/1, Ladbrokes) gets the vote to land Thursday’s big race, and Nicky Henderson’s Astarabad gelding stepped up on that effort to land the Grade One Liverpool Hurdle from At Fishers Cross, with Zarkandar back in fourth.

Although beaten by Saphir Du Rheu in the Welsh Champion Hurdle, he doesn’t looks short of stamina and while he flopped on his only try over fences at Exeter on New Year’s Day, it is interesting that Henderson has quickly aborted any notion of a chase career for now and has reverted Whisper back over the smaller obstacles.

He remains open to plenty of improvement over this trip, and should make a bold bid.


The Coral Cup winner twelve months ago, Whisper went on to Grade One success at Aintree, and he can add the World Hurdle to his CV.

Henderson also saddles Blue Fashion (16/1, William Hill) who rates as a fascinating contender, and the dual French winner has only twice seen a racecourse since joining the Seven Barrows trainer but boasts some strong form from both outings.

The Scorpion gelding chased home current World Hurdle champion More Of That at Haydock on his debut here at Haydock, going down by two lengths, and then occupied the same position behind Faugheen in the Grade Two Coral Hurdle at Ascot back in November.

Both times he shaped as if in need of a stiffer test, and he gets one here now trying three miles. Sure to improve, he rates an interesting and live contender for top honours here.

Dedigout (25/1, Bet365) was a Grade One winner as a novice back in 2012, and he has performed with credit since as a dual-purpose performer, finishing runner-up in the Drinmore in December 2012 behind Arvika Ligeonniere, winning the Directors Plate at Naas and beaten two lengths behind Realt Mor in the Powers Gold Cup his most notable efforts over fences.

He spent last season back over timber, winning the Lismullen from Mala Beach but seemingly had problems after failing to beat a rival home in the Hattons Grace. Off the track for more than a year, he returned to action with a never-nearer sixth to Lieutenant Colonel in the Christmas Hurdle, but has since won the next twice; gaining a narrow verdict over Monksland in the Galmoy Hurdle, and then beating Zaidpour in the Boyne Hurdle.

Tony Martin’s runner can’t be lightly dismissed, but possible the ground here will be too quick for the Bob Back gelding, and all his best form has come in the mud. Definite chance though if handling quicker conditions.


Dedigout can go well at a big price, but may prefer softer ground.

David Pipe saddles Un Temps Pour Tout (12/1, Coral) who was useful in France but has improved for the switch to the Pipe yard although remains lightly raced with just four starts for the Pond House yard.

Pitched straight into Grade Two company in the Rossington Main, he was runner-up to Zamdy Man before beating Cole Harden next time at Ascot, and wasn’t disgraced with a solid third-placed effort behidn Deep Trouble at Punchestown after.

After a lengthy lay-off, the Robin Des Champs gelding returned in the Cleeve Hurdle where he held every chance but perhaps lack of a recent run just undid him in the closing stages and he finished third. He is entitled to step up on that effort, and he should run well but perhaps needs a bit more to feature against a couple of these rivals.

Monksland (16/1, Coral) was a very smart performer as a novice, finishing third in the Neptune behind Simonsig and then returning the following season to win the Wkd Hurdle.

Noel Meade’s charge traded blows with Zaidpour the next twice, losing out to that rival in the 2012 Hattons Grace, but gained revenge in the Christmas Hurdle although was absent for some considerable time after.

The Beneficial gelding shaped encouragingly at Leopardstown on his return from a lengthy absence, finishing third to Lieurenant Colonel in the same race in December, and built on the effort to lose out by the narrowest of margins behind Dedigout in the Galmoy Hurdle.

Underfoot conditions will pose little problem for him, as he has won on good ground in the past, and another contender with live claims.

Zaidpour (50/1, Bet365) meanwhile is a talented performer at his best, but perhaps doesn’t act around this track and he’s disappointed here in the past. A quirky sort, he may be better around flatter tracks.

At Fishers Cross (33/1, Ladbrokes) has looked increasingly unreliable, bombing out most recently at Haydock, and looks a shadow of the horse that romped to Albert Bartlett success a couple of seasons ago.

However, he has run well in this race in the past, and this venue seems to bring out the best in him. First-time blikers may help, and he has the ability to get involved if he wants to, but he’s clearly risky.


Talented but unreliable, At Fishers Cross likes it at Cheltenham and sports blinkers for the first time.

Aubusson (50/1, Bet365) won a good Grade Three fixed-brush hurdle race at Haydock, and has performed with credit in strong company since, but the step into Grade One company against these rivals is surely a bridge too far; whole Cole Harden () has a bit to prove now based on his last couple of visits here where he’s been well beaten on both occasions.

Tiger Roll (50/1, William Hill) won last season’s Triumph Hurdle, but he’s disapppointed since winning back here at the start of the season, and is pushed markedly up in trip; he may not stay, as too might Abyssial (25/1, Bet365) who has fallen twice in his last four outings. 

Seeyouatmidnight (33/1, Coral) made an encouraging return to action in Grade Two company last time, and last season’s Rendlesham winner can build on that outing if proving as effective on the quicker ground, although he was far from disgraced in the Sefton at Aintree when last encountering a sound surface; possible though he’d be happier with some rain around.

VERDICT

Hard to rule any of these out with confidence, and both Paul Nicholls’ representatives look set to run big races. However, Nicky Henderson also runs two in the race, and while Blue Fashion is a fascinating runner on only his third start for the Seven Barrows team, it is last season’s Coral Cup  winner WHISPER (11/1, Ladbrokes) who makes most appeal.

The Astarabad gelding shaped when winning at the Festival twelve months ago that he wasn’t short on stamina when gamely holding off Get Me Out Of Here, and stepped up on that effort to land the Grade One Liverpool Hurdle next time, where Zarkandar was back in fourth.

Although he’s had just one start this term when disappointing over fences at Exeter, he’s reverted to hurdles now, and will relish this ground. He looks set to run a big race in the hands of Barry Geraghty, and boasts obvious claims of adding another Grade One to his tally.

WORLD HURDLE SELECTION – WHISPER (11/1, Ladbrokes)


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2015 World Hurdle tips - Whisper can roar to Cheltenham Festival success in Thursday's staying championship

Tipster Brian Healy assesses the field for Thursday's big race at the Cheltenham Festival, the World Hurdle, and he has a strong 11/1 fancy for the race. Find out why he's confident Nicky Henderson's Whisper can roar to Festival success in the World Hurdle.

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