2016 Coral Hurdle runner profiles for Ascot showpiece
David Metcalf | 19 November 2016
2016 Coral Hurdle runner profiles
The Grade 2 Coral Hurdle takes centre stage on a superb card at Ascot on Saturday (14:40), and Yanworth is currently a red-hot favourite to provide jockey Barry Geraghty with a fourth success in the contest.
As proud sponsors of the race, we look at 2016 Coral Hurdle runner profiles for all five entrants in this year’s renewal of the prestigious 2m 3f contest…
Trainer: Evan Williams
Jockey: Paul Moloney
A winner of six of his 24 starts over hurdles, and those successes include victory in the 2013 Scottish Champion Hurdle.
Finished a fine 2 1/2 length runner-up to Rock On Ruby in this contest 12 months ago and shaped really well on seasonal reappearance when beaten just a neck by Hargham in a Listed contest at Kempton.
That should have put Court Minstrel spot on for this and he is a strong travelling sort who has a potent turn of foot. Needs a career-best to win but hails from a yard going well and should not to be underestimated .
Garde La Victoire
Trainer: Philip Hobbs
Jockey: Tom O’Brien
Put in a very smart performance when winning the valuable Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham in 2014 and went on to land a competitive Listed handicap hurdle at Sandown in the same year.
Developed into a top-class novice chaser last season when winning three times and look as good as ever on return to action when switched back to the smaller obstacles and landing the Welsh Champion Hurdle at Ffos Las.
Garde La Victoire has since been beaten just a short-head in the Haldon Gold Cup over fences at Exeter and now reverts back to hurdling. Sure to give it his best shot but likely to find at least one too good.
Trainer: Neil King
Jockey: Trevor Whelan
Lil Rockerfeller has been a real star for his handler and enjoyed his finest hour when landing last season’s Grade 2 National Spirit Hurdle at Fontwell by nine lengths.
Was then far from disgraced when seventh of 12 to Annie Power in the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and ran well on return to action when third in a Grade 2 at Wetherby.
That run should have blow away the cobwebs and he is a really likeable type who always tries his best.
Officially the highest rated in the line-up, but has to give weight all-round and that is going to be no easy task against some top-class performers.
Trainer: Nicky Henderson
Jockey: Barry Geraghty
Top-class bumper performer who took to hurdles like a duck to water when winning his first four starts last season.
Looked something out of the ordinary in the last of those when scything through the field and showing an explosive turn of foot to easily land a Grade 2 at Cheltenham by seven lengths.
Yanworth went on to round off the campaign with a fine 1 3/4 length second to Yorkhill in the Grade 1 Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, where he had to be driven wide to challenge and made a couple of costly errors.
Judged on that effort, Yanworth is a very exciting prospect and a possible contender for the 2017 Champion Hurdle. Should have plenty more to offer and the one to beat.
Trainer: Paul Nicholls
Jockey: Sean Bowen
A tough and consistent high-class performer who has won nine of his 25 starts over hurdles. They include four successes in Grade 1 company and Zarkandar has also posted a series of solid efforts in defeat.
They include when a cracking two length runner-up to Annie Power in the 2012 running of this contest and a fine third to Cole Harden in the World Hurdle at the 2015 Cheltenham Festival.
That is top class form but Zarkandar is prone to making costly blunder at the business end of affairs, as was the case on seasonal reappearance at Aintree when still travelling powerfully and yet to be asked a series question when coming to grief at the last.
Needs to cut out the errors, but yard has made a flying start to the season and is a major contender.