Cleeve Hurdle – Race Preview
Saturday sees the annual running of the Cleeve Hurlde at Cheltenham. The race is run over a distance of 3 miles with a total of 12 fences jumped. The Cleeve is an important trial race for the World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March with two horses in recent years, Inglis Drever and Big Bucks, winning the race before going on to success in the World Hurdle at the Festival. Nine runners are set to go to post looking for victory before focussing on the Festival in March.
The Colin Tizzard Thistlecrack is the current ante-post favourite for the race and he comes into the race on the back of two winning runs so far this season. Success in the Grade 2 Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury in November was followed with an impressive victory in the Grade 1 Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot before Christmas. Already the ante-post favourite for the World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, Thistlecrack is very much the horse to beat on Saturday.
Camping Ground is the current ante-post second favourite and the Robert Walford six-year old comes into Saturday’s race having been an impressive winner of the Grade 2 Relkeel Hurdle at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day. Staying on strongly over 2 miles 4 furlongs that day, Saturday’s race will be Camping Ground’s first attempt over 3 miles and there has to be question mark over his stamina.
Ptit Zig represents trainer Paul Nicholls and he has had a busy campaign so far this season, running four times over fences since the end of October. Victory in a Grade 2 Chase at Down Royal was followed by a second place to the leading Irish horse Vautour. Jumping errors have seen Ptit Zig fail to finish in his last two races and connections have made the bold decision to switch back to hurdles for the first time since the Spring of 2014. A switch back to the smaller obstacles may be the spark that Ptit Zig requires but against some high-class opposition on Saturday and over a distance that he has never faced, it would be a fantastic performance if he was to win the race.
The Young Master is also switching back to hurdles for the first time since 2014 and like Ptit Zig it would take a massive effort if he was to win the race against the like of Thistlecrack and Caomping Ground. He does have the benefit of having won over 3 miles and has also won at Cheltenham so he may well stay on up the hill to grab a place when others are fading.
Thistlecrack is the 1.66 () ante-post favourite for Saturday’s race with Camping Ground available at 3 (2/1). Ptit Zig is available to back at 6 (5/1) with The Young Master 26 (25/1). The horse racing tip for Saturday’s Cleeve Hurdle is The Young Master each-way at 26 (25/1).
By: Scott McGlynn