Scottish Grand National Festival: Ch’Tibello weighted to collect Champion Hurdle for Skelton
David Metcalf | April 15, 2016
Thrown in Ch’Tibello handicapped to strike in Scottish Champion Hurdle
Ch’Tibello can take advantage of what looks a lenient opening handicap mark to land the Scottish Champion Hurdle on Coral Scottish Grand National Day at Ayr (15:00).
The gelding won in good style on his second start in France and has shaped with bags of promise to finish make the frame in three starts since joining trainer Dan Skelton.
In the second of those, the five-year-old got collared close home and beaten just 1 1/4 lengths by the ultra-classy Altior at Ascot.
Altior has won three times since, including a very strong renewal of the Grade 1 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, and is now rated 160.
Ascot form extremely strong
The pair also pulled 20 lengths clear of the third home Vancouverite, who had won two of his last three starts going into the contest and is rated 132.
That is very strong form, and Ch’Tibello has since gone on to finish a solid third to Stenrubin in the Listed Gerry Feilden Hurdle at Newbury.
Although eventually beaten nine lengths, Ch’Tibello made a costly blunder two from home and faced a stiff task trying to give 9lb to the winner who has scored since and finished a cracking third of 26 to Superb Story in the County Handicap Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival last time out off a mark of 142.
In the circumstances it was a fine effort, so based on his last two runs the lightly-raced and unexposed Ch’Tibello looks to have got in lightly on his handicap debut in this off a rating off just 135.
Shrewd progressive and feared most
Shrewd has a progressive profile and looks a big player for Scottish trainer Iain Jardine. The six-year-old has won his last three starts, two over the jumps and one on the level.
In the first of those, Shrewd ran out the easy two length winner of the Scottish County Hurdle at Musselburgh. This gelding then readily landed a conditional novices’ hurdle at Doncaster by eight lengths, before capitalising on his lowly flat rating to score at Wolverhampton when last seen in action.
Shrewd now has to race off a career-high hurdles mark of 137, but is clearly in terrific heart and thriving at present. The son of Street Sense also looks the type who has more to offer, and has the services in the saddle of Shane Shortall, who gets a good tune out of him and is excellent value for his 5lb claim.
Coral’s Top tip: Ch’Tibello looks potentially thrown-in on his handicap debut and decent value to land the spoils. The progressive Shrewd rates the main danger.