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Osana Looking for Repeat Victory in ihe International at Cheltenham

Connections of Osana are hoping that the star hurdler can join the likes of Comedy Of Errors, Bird’s Nest and Relkeel by winning the £200,000 Grade Two International for a second successive year at Cheltenham on Saturday, December 13, day two of the Boylesports International.

The David Pipe-trained six-year-old made every yard of the running in the two mile, one furlong contest last year to record a comprehensive eight-length victory over Katchit.

He returned to Cheltenham for The Festival in March and ran another superb race to finish the length runner-up to Katchit in the Grade One Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle before finishing his season with another second, this time to Al Eile, in the Grade One Aintree Hurdle at the Grand National meeting. Katchit is also expected to head to the International on December 13 and a mouth-watering rematch is in prospect.

Michael Goodbody, racing manager to Osana’s owner Thomas Barr, commented: “It’s very much the plan for Osana to run in the International. He’s fine and we hope he will run to the same level he produced last season.

“We were delighted with his victory in last year’s race. He had run so well under top weight in the Greatwood Hurdle at The Open (when second to Sizing Europe) that we decided to let him run in the International and it worked out extremely well.

“Obviously, when he won, we had to seriously consider returning for The Festival because it was really the only option. He ran a very good race in the Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle and then it was Al Eile’s race to win at Aintree. Osana’s been very consistent and we cannot complain.

“It’s very competitive when you get to the highest level and there are several good hurdlers coming through this season, just like we did last year. There’s always something that will come out of the pack and you never know what’s going to happen in the top league.

“David has done a great job with Osana and the horse is in good hands. Hopefully, Osana can run well in the International this time around and we can start to think about The Festival in March once again.”

The International is the third-richest hurdle race in Britain and Ireland. Only the Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle and the Ladbrokes World Hurdle at The Festival in March are worth more.

Underscoring the importance of this event is a £200,000 bonus payment offered by Boylesports for any horse winning both the International and the Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle in the same season. If won, this will be split £180,000 for the owner, £10,000 for the trainer and £10,000 for the successful yard's stable staff. Rooster Booster won both contests in the 2002/03 season, as did Salmon Spray (1965/66 season) and Comedy Of Errors (1974/75 season).

The two-day Boylesports International also features the £150,000 Gold Cup on Saturday, December 13, while on Friday, December 12, the £100,000 Cashback Chase takes centre stage. Friday also sees the £22,500 Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Steeple Chase over Cheltenham’s unique Cross Country course.

Other highlights include the £45,000 Grade Two "Relkeel" Hurdle on the Saturday, and the £30,000 Grade Two Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle on the same day.

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