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Champion Hurdle trial rerouted to Doncaster as the weather beats Sandown's Saturday hurdles card 01/02/13

There will be a Champion Hurdle trial at Doncaster on Monday, after the additional fixture's 2m½f Listed race attracted big names such as Darlan and Countrywide Flame. This is of course all in preparation for the Cheltenham Festival in March, which is one of the biggest National Hunt events of the season, along with the Grand National in April 2013.

Darlan
© Racehorse Photos

Darlan

Now that the hurdles card at Sandown - due to take place on Saturday - has been postponed due to a waterlogged track, the Listed Contenders Hurdle will be one of four hurdle races that may be lost to Doncaster now the Surrey course has to switch to an all-chase card.

Nicky Henderson's Darlan and Grandouet are a best-priced 9-2 and 7-1 respectively for the Champion Hurdle, and the popular trainer had already expressed his intention to reroute Christmas Hurdle winner Darlan to Doncaster should the Surrey course fall foul of the winter weather.

Monday's Doncaster meeting has attracted 225 entries for the seven races at the South Yorkshire course. And with the ground looking in good nick, despite the recent snow and rain that has engulfed the UK, clerk of the course Roderick Duncan is hopeful of a successful day.

"The ground is drying out nicely after all the snow and rain," he said on the Racing Post website. "It is currently soft, good to soft in places. The forecast is quite good and we should have some nice ground next week. We're really pleased to be staging what could well be a great race."

All of this means, of course, that Sandown's luck has been well and truly out. Speaking before the final decision to call off the hurdles part of tomorrow's meeting, clerk of the course Andrew Cooper said: "The main reason is to take account of the forecast overnight rain. It is supposed to rain from midnight until dawn, but there are quite conflicting totals.

"At the moment the ground on the chase course is a mixture of soft and heavy, while it is heavy [soft in places] on the hurdles track. Several places on the hurdles course are currently saturated, bordering on false ground. It's good we've got the flexibility to carry over a decision to tomorrow morning bearing in mind the overnight forecast."

Don’t forget to checkout all the latest odds for the 2013 National.

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