CHELTENHAM RACECOURSE NEWS - Sebastopol heads market as 42 entries revealed for Unibet Greatwood Hurdle at The November Meeting
Staged over an extended two miles, the Unibet Greatwood Hurdle boasts a fabulous roll of honour featuring the likes of future Unibet Champion Hurdle winners Celtic Shot and Rooster Booster, plus Sizing Europe, who went on to enjoy such a stellar career over fences.
Heading the market at 9/1 with sponsor Unibet is Sebastopol (Tom Lacey). The lightly-raced five-year-old was a smart bumper performer two seasons ago and, after a curtailed campaign in 2018/19, returned with a very impressive seven-length success in a handicap hurdle at Wincanton on 17 October.
Also prominent in the opening market with Unibet are Punchestown G1 winner Fusil Raffles (Nicky Henderson) and Monsieur Lecoq (Jane Williams), both 10/1 chances. Fusil Raffles has won both his starts since joining Nicky Henderson, most recently taking a G1 juvenile contest at Punchestown in May, while Monsieur Lecoq landed the Welsh Champion Hurdle on his return to action at Ffos Las on 19 October.
Henderson has eight entries in total, with the pick of his other entries including Adjali (14/1) and Rathill (14/1), both very useful novices last season, as well as Brain Power (16/1), who captured the G1 Grand National Hurdle at Far Hills, USA, on 19 October.
A horse already on the scoresheet at the Home of Jump racing this season is Quel Destin (Paul Nicholls, 11/1), who landed the Masterson Holdings Hurdle at The Showcase on 26 October.
The 11-time champion Jump trainer looks to hold a strong hand in the Unibet Greatwood Hurdle with his six entries also including recent impressive Wincanton winner Ecco (14/1), who was sixth in the G1 JCB Triumph Hurdle at The Festival™ presented by Magners, as well as G1-placed Christopher Wood (20/1) and exciting four-year-old Red Force One (20/1).
Another contender already a winner at Cheltenham this season is Benny's Bridge (Fergal O'Brien, 33/1), who sauntered to an eight-length success in the Matchbook Betting Exchange Podcast Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle over an extended two miles at The Showcase on 25 October.
Gloucestershire-based O'Brien said: "It was always the plan to run Benny's Bridge at Cheltenham last weekend and I was delighted with the way he did it. "He is a lovely horse and he likes Cheltenham, so the Unibet Greatwood Hurdle is something we will consider."
Wiltshire handler Alan King took the honours in the Unibet Greatwood Hurdle two years ago with Elgin and has two entries this year including Harambe (33/1), a useful novice who won at Kempton Park and Market Rasen in the spring and came home seventh in the G2 Unibet Persian War Novices' Hurdle on his return to action at Chepstow on 11 October.
King said: "Harambe has come out of Chepstow in good form. "He was not fully wound up for that contest and he got a bit tired on the ground, having been a bit too fresh. "The gap between Chepstow and Cheltenham suits nicely and he is a horse that I have in mind for the Greatwood. "He will come on for that race and hopefully there is more to come this season."
There have been three Irish-trained winners of the Unibet Greatwood Hurdle, most recently Sizing Europe in 2007. There are six Irish-trained contenders this year, with a trio from Ireland's champion Jump trainer Willie Mullins - La Sorelita (25/1), Janidil (25/1) and Allez Dance (33/1).
Weights for the Unibet Greatwood Hurdle will be revealed on Wednesday, November 6. Ed Nicholson, Head of Unibet racing sponsorship & communications said: "We are delighted with the quantity and quality of entries for this season's Unibet Greatwood Hurdle, which includes eight from the powerful Unibet-sponsored stable of Nicky Henderson.
It's incredible to think Nicky has yet to win this race, given the ammunition he has had in years gone by, but this season his entries include the likes of recent US Grand National hero, and past winner of the Unibet International Hurdle, Brain Power. "It may be a long and winding road to the Unibet Champion hurdle in March, but the Unibet Greatwood Hurdle consistently provides pointers to that race with five of the last 12 winners of the Unibet Greatwood Hurdle going onto contest the premier two-mile hurdle race itself, while three Unibet Greatwood Hurdle winners in the last 12 years won the Unibet-sponsored International Hurdle on their next start.
"The Unibet Road to Cheltenham series of six races is undoubtedly the most informative set of races in regards to the Unibet Champion hurdle, and this season the Unibet Greatwood hurdle forms part of a wonderful opening weekend with the G1 Unibet Morgiana on Saturday, 16 November kicking things off from Punchestown."
Unibet Greatwood Hurdle, Unibet odds: 9/1 Sebastopol 10/1 Fusil Raffles, Monsieur Lecoq 11/1 Quel Destin 14/1 Ecco, Humble Hero, Adjali, Rathhill 16/1 Brain Power 20/1 Red Force One, Christopher Wood, Epatante, Pic D'orhy 25/1 Fanfan du Seuil, Countister, Gumball, Mohaayed, Le Patriote, Dame de Compagnie, Project Bluebook, Janidil, La Sorelita, Zanza 33/1 Leoncavallo, Lisp, Lust For Glory, Scaramanga, Hannon, Golden Spear, Allez Dance, Nordic Combined, Didtheyleaveuoutto, Brandon Castle, Benny's Bridge, Beat The Judge, Harambe 40/1 Man of Plenty, Quoi de Neuf 50/1 Monsieur d'Arque 66/1 Torcello 100/1 Grapevine, De Mazzaro The Unibet Greatwood Hurdle Grade 3, £100,000 total prize fund. Cheltenham, Sunday, 17 November. Two miles and half a furlong (2m 87y).
For four-year-olds and upwards. Penalties: after November 3, a winner of a hurdle 5lb. Entries closed October 29, entries revealed October 30 (42 entries).
Weights revealed November 6. Six-day confirmation stage November 11, final declarations November 15. Maximum field size 24 runners.
Horse Age Owner Trainer Adjali (GER) 4 Simon Munir & Isaac Souede Nicky Henderson Allez Dance (FR) 5 Simon Munir/Isaac Souede Willie Mullins IRE Beat The Judge (IRE) 4 Ed Babington Gary Moore Benny's Bridge (IRE) 6 Biddestone Racing I Fergal O'Brien Brain Power (IRE) 8 Michael Buckley Nicky Henderson Brandon Castle 7 I A Low & J S English Neil King Christopher Wood (IRE) 4 Ms Sharon Kinsella Paul Nicholls Countister (FR) 7 J P McManus Nicky Henderson Dame de Compagnie (FR) 6 J P McManus Nicky Henderson De Mazzaro (IRE) 5 John P McGovern Tom McCourt IRE Didtheyleaveuoutto (IRE) 6 J P McManus Nick Gifford Ecco 4 Colm Donlon Paul Nicholls Epatante (FR) 5 J P McManus Nicky Henderson Fanfan du Seuil (FR) 4 Crossed Fingers Partnership Tom George Fusil Raffles (FR) 4 Simon Munir & Isaac Souede Nicky Henderson Golden Spear 8 John Breslin Tony Martin IRE Grapevine (IRE) 6 James Finch Sophie Leech Gumball (FR) 5 Terry Warner Philip Hobbs Hannon (IRE) 4 D Kierans John McConnell IRE Harambe 6 Niall Farrell & Friends Alan King Humble Hero (IRE) 5 Notalotterry Dan Skelton Janidil (FR) 5 J P McManus Willie Mullins IRE La Sorelita (FR) 4 K Alexander Willie Mullins IRE Le Patriote (FR) 7 Canard Vert Racing Club Dr Richard Newland Leoncavallo (IRE) 7 ValueRacingClubcouk Dr Richard Newland Lisp (IRE) 5 Richard & Lizzie Kelvin-Hughes Alan King Lust For Glory (IRE) 6 Robert Waley-Cohen Nicky Henderson Man of Plenty 10 G Thompson Sophie Leech Mohaayed 7 June Watts Dan Skelton Monsieur d'Arque (IRE) 5 Ian Lawrence Dan Skelton Monsieur Lecoq (FR) 5 Jane Williams Jane Williams Nordic Combined (IRE) 5 Chris & David Stam David Pipe Pic D'orhy (FR) 4 Mrs Johnny de la Hey Paul Nicholls Project Bluebook (FR) 6 J P McManus John Quinn Quel Destin (FR) 4 Martin Broughton & Friends Paul Nicholls Quoi de Neuf (FR) 5 William & Angela Rucker Evan Williams Rathhill (IRE) 6 J P McManus Nicky Henderson Red Force One 4 Done Ferguson Mason Paul Nicholls Scaramanga (IRE) 4 Malcolm Denmark Paul Nicholls Sebastopol (IRE) 5 C Boultbee-Brooks Tom Lacey Torcello (IRE) 5 Dan Gilbert Shaun Lycett Zanza (IRE) 5 Louisville Syndicate Elite Philip Hobbs 42 entries 6 Irish-trained