The Relkeel Hurdle (Cheltenham 3.10, Sunday) is named after Relkeel, a horse who won a hat-trick of Bula Hurdles during the 1990’s and became a crowd favourite with his tenacity to battle up the Cheltenham hill.
Winners in the last 10 renewals have been aged 4 to 9, with winners carrying a mix of penalties or none at all. Meanwhile, Nicky Henderson and Barry Geraghty have teamed-up to win 3 of the last 7 renewals.
9 Runners are set to go to post for the 2017 Relkeel Hurdle.
Won last season’s renewal, but was suited by the heavy ground that day, and also had bottom-weight of 11-0. Has to carry 11-8 this year and, whilst he handles good ground, he would prefer it softer.
Beaten 11-lengths last year into second, but conceded Camping Ground 4lb, which he doesn’t have to do this year. Looks to have improved this season too, and the form of his seconds to Yanworth and Unowwhatimeanharry entitle him to be favourite.
His chasing career looks to have been aborted, and he’s enjoyed his finest moments here at Cheltenham. Has a few pound to find with a few of these, but breeding doesn’t suggest he’s crying out for a step-up in trip. Will appreciate good ground though.
Adrien Du Pont
A few pounds to find with most of these on ratings and, though he ran well in a grade-1 in France on seasonal debut, he’s 0 from 2 at Cheltenham.
Ran away with the Betfair Hurdle in February, but his form suggests he wants softer ground.
Only had 2 starts for present trainer, but has been well-beaten all four starts at Cheltenham, and hard to recommend.
Protek Des Flos
Interesting for the combination of Henderson and Geraghty, but his two wins last season were achieved on heavy ground, and he reverts back to hurdles after a poor chase debut.
The 2015 World Hurdle winner was beaten into third last year behind Camping Ground and Lil Rockerfeller, but interesting that he was sent off 4/1 whilst the winner was 10/1 and the runner-up 20/1. He’s also 16lb and 12lb better off with those two rivals this time, and should really appreciate the good ground, if his chasing debut hasn’t spoiled his hurdling technique. Interesting that stable has had 3 winners from last 5 runners.
Another who reverts to hurdling from chasing, and has every chance on the form of his runs at the last 2 Cheltenham Festivals. Stamina may be stretched though in what is likely to be a truly run race.
2017 Relkeel Hurdle Summary
Lil Rockerfeller has some great form already this season, however he’s 12lb worse-off with Cole Harden for 9-lengths on their form from last year’s renewal, and it’s Cole Harden who is likely to appreciate the good ground more.
Tip: Cole Harden @ 6/1 (Paddy Power, Betfair Sportsbook, Stan James)