Cheltenham preview: International Hurdle (15.00)
David Metcalf | December 11, 2015
Peace And Co can further enhance his Champion Hurdle claims by making a winning return to action in the International Hurdle at Cheltenham (15.00).
This gelding joined trainer Nicky Henderson after winning on his French debut at Clairefontaine, and looked a superstar in the making last season when victorious on all three starts.
In the first of those at Doncaster, Peace And Co looked something out of the ordinary when strolling to a facile success in the Grade 2 Summit Novices’ Hurdle.
The four-year-old jumped superbly throughout the 2m contest, and pulled clear on the bridle two from home to win by 19 lengths.
Jockey Daryl Jacob didn’t have to move a muscle, and Peace And Co won in the style of a horse with a massive engine.
Peace And Co is course and distance winner
Peace And Co went on to land a Grade 2 contest at this venue by three lengths despite being unsuited by a slow early gallop, before rounding off the campaign with success in the Grade 1 Triumph Hurdle over course and distance at the Cheltenham Festival.
The son of Falco travelled ominously well throughout in the latter, and after making smooth headway two from home challenged at the last before asserting on the run-in to beat stablemate Top Notch by a neck.
Peace And Co stayed on well and was always just doing enough, and to me was value for much more than the winning margin.
He is currently 8/1 with Coral for the 2016 Champion Hurdle, and I fully expect Peace And Co to come through this test and confirm himself a leading contender for that contest.
Don’t forget about the Old Guard
If Peace And Co does fail to live up to expectations then the race-fit Old Guard looks the obvious one to take advantage.
The Paul Nicholls trained gelding has shown improved form to win both his starts this season over course and distance, and was most impressive in the last of those when beating Superb Story by two lengths in the Greatwood Hurdle.
Old Guard tanked along in midfield, and after making stealthy headway to challenge at the last only had to be driven out on the run-in to score with a bit up his sleeve.
It was a most taking effort, and Old Guard is clearly thriving and on an upward curve. However, that was a handicap and this Grade 2 contest represents a big step up in class.
Given connections Old Guard may well prove up to the grade, but to me he doesn’t have the scope or class of Peace And Co and will need that rival to under-perform to land the spoils.
Keep an eye on our Cheltenham coverage for more race previews and tips.
Coral’s top tip: Peace And Co is a most exciting prospect, so rates a solid bet to make a winning return to action and maintain his unbeaten record.