10th - 13th March
4

15:30 Cheltenham 10 Mar 2020

Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy

Grade 1 | Class 1 | 4YO plus

Winner £264,610 - 17 ran

2m 87y

Soft (Heavy in places)

Draw Advantage: None

Gary Nutting
by Gary Nutting

Published 24th January

PENTLAND HILLS looks primed to become only the fourth five-year-old in 35 years to win the Unibet Champion Hurdle.

Victory for Nicky Henderson’s charge would bring the memories flooding back as the trainer landed the 1985 renewal with 5yo See You Then, who went on to become one of the all-time greats by completing a hat-trick in the two-mile championship.

Henderson of course has charted his own successful course since then, winning this race four more times - courtesy of Punjabi, Binocular and Buveir D’Air (twice).

Those last three were older horses (six, six, six/seven respectively), but this doesn’t look a vintage renewal and offers a good opportunity for one of the younger brigade to break through again.

Both on form and pedigree (Flat-bred, from a classy German family), this slick jumper can be expected to improve signficantly given a truer-run race on better ground.

Pentland Hills has looked a different horse since going hurdling - having been a 73-rated Flat performer after 11 runs for the resolutely reliable Chris Wall - a fact recognised by Henderson, who has stressed the gelding’s ‘love of jumping’.

That was evident in his unbeaten juvenile hurdling campaign last season, culminating in victories in the Triumph Hurdle and Aintree equivalent to which he was fast-tracked after scoring on jumps debut at Plumpton in late February.

On the face of it, defeats in both starts this season looks disappointing - yet in fact he’s put up cracking efforts considered he pulled too hard in small fields on soft/heavy ground.

Both on form and pedigree (Flat-bred, from a classy German family), this slick jumper can be expected to improve signficantly given a truer-run race on better ground.

With tearaway Not So Sleepy a probable runner (and no forlorn hope himself), he should get a decent pace to aim at and we know from the manner of his Triumph success that he’s strong up the Cheltenham hill - provided he’s kept his energy in check.

Gary provides regular ante-post updates on Twitter. His username is @horsetraderinfo

Cheltenham 15:30, 10 March 2020

Previous Winners

Year Winner Trainer Jockey Age/Wt SP
2019Espoir D'allenG P CromwellM P Walsh5 11-1016/1
2018Buveur D'airN J HendersonB J Geraghty7 11-104/6f
2017Buveur D'airN J HendersonN D Fehily6 11-105/1
2016Annie PowerW P MullinsR Walsh8 11-35/2f
2015FaugheenW P MullinsR Walsh7 11-104/5f
2014JezkiMrs J HarringtonB J Geraghty6 11-109/1
2013Hurricane FlyW P MullinsR Walsh9 11-1013/8f
2012Rock On RubyP F NichollsN Fehily7 11-1011/1
2011Hurricane FlyW P MullinsR Walsh7 11-1011/4f
2010 Binocular N J Henderson A P McCoy 6 11-10 9/1
2009 Punjabi N J Henderson B J Geraghty 6 11-10 22/1
2008 Katchit A King R Thornton 5 11-10 10/1
2007 Sublimity J G Carr P A Carberry 7 11-10 16-1
2006 Brave Inca C A Murphy A P McCoy 8 11-10 7-4f
2005 Hardy Eustace D T Hughes C O'Dwyer 8 11-10 7-2jf
2004 Hardy Eustace D T Hughes C O'Dwyer 7 11-10 33-1
2003 Rooster Booster P J Hobbs R Johnson 9 12-0 9-2
2002 Hors La Loi III J R Fanshawe D Gallagher 7 12-0 10-1
2001 No Race
2000 Istabraq A P O'Brien C F Swan 8 12-0 8-15f
1999 Istabraq A P O'Brien C F Swan 7 12-0 4-9f
1998 Istabraq A P O'Brien C F Swan 6 12-0 3-1f
1997 Make A Stand M C Pipe A P McCoy 6 12-0 7-1

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