Vaniteux the class act in Greatwood Hurdle
The big betting race of the day is the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham (3.15) and Vaniteux can make his class tell to defy top weight and land the spoils enroute to a crack at the Champion Hurdle.
The Nicky Henderson trained gelding has only had four starts over hurdles, winning twice and finishing a crack third third of 18 to Vautour in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Festival here when last seen in action.
The five-year-old stayed on well in the latter to be beaten 6 1/2 lengths, and it was an effort which earned him an official rating of 147 and suggested Vaniteux should have plenty more to offer this season.
Given his lightly-raced profile, the son of Voix Du Nord remains open to sginificant progress and I believe he has the potential to make up into a live Champion Hurdle contender.
Indeed, three Champion Hurdle winners since 1997 have contested the contest, with Celtic Shot and Rooster Booster completing the double.
Coral currently go 25/1 about Vaniteux for the Champion, and those odds will be cut dramatically if he wins this.
Although Vaniteux has 11st 12lb to carry, top weights have won four of the last 12 runnings and finished in the frame in five of the last renewals.
Five-year-olds have much the best record, winning eight of the last 15 renewals, and eight of the last 12 winners have been officially rated 140 or higher.
It also looks significant that Barry Geraghty has decided to partner Vaniteux rather than Jezki in the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown.
Geraghty steered Jezki to victory in last year’s Champion Hurdle, and although officially obliged to partner Vaniteux being the stable jockey I can’t help but feel that Henderson would have allowed him to travel to Ireland if he did not think that Vaniteux was capable of winning this and developing into a live contender for the Champion.