Unibet Greatwood Hurdle
|Grade 3 Handicap, Cheltenham 15:00
2m 150yds, Class 1
|Sunday 18th November 2018
A maximum field of 20 will line up for the £100,000 G3 Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle, the prestigious race staged over an extended two miles at the Home of Jump Racing on Sunday, November 18, the third and final day of The November Meeting.
Six-year-old mare Verdana Blue
(Nicky Henderson) is already on the scoresheet this season, having taken a Listed hurdle race impressively by seven lengths from Old Guard
) at Kempton Park on October 21.
Henderson said: "We have left Verdana Blue in the Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle. She was very good here [Kempton Park] and very good at Wincanton on Saturday, but it would be a tough ask.
"It is an interesting conundrum because I was under the impression that a penalty would not take her weight above 11st 12lb. In what was the Ladbroke Hurdle for example, it stopped at 11st 12lb - if you are on 11st 11lb, you can only get a 1lb penalty.
"Now with the Greatwood, and I was just looking at the calendar this morning, I could not see this famous line that says 'no penalty to take a horse's weight above 11st 12lb'. We have just spoken to Stuart Middleton and he said 'ah, you are correct.'
"At the moment, Verdana Blue goes to 11st 11lb with a penalty, but of course if something comes out above her then she goes up and gets the penalty on top, so there is nothing to say she could not end up with 12st. That would make it unlikely that you will see her.
"She has come out of Wincanton fine and while the ground is good, you have to keep going really. This ground is not going to last forever. It is possible she will run."
Champion Jump trainer Nicky Henderson, who has yet to win the Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle, has also entered G2 Scottish Champion Handicap Hurdle
fourth Charli Parcs
Henderson continued: "Charli Parcs is in good form at home. He ran in the Unibet Champion Hurdle last year, but I think the Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle is a race that he comes into fresh and that could really suit him. He will have plenty of weight in the race, but he will definitely go for the Greatwood."
(Warren Greatrex) was a winner at Cheltenham last season, taking a novices' hurdle at The International in December, and went on to perform creditably for the rest of the campaign including when coming home a staying-on sixth behind Summerville Boy
in the G1 Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle
at The Festival™.
Lambourn trainer Warren Greatrex believes Western Ryder can develop into a useful performer this season off of his official BHA handicap rating of 145.
Greatrex reported: "Western Ryder is in good form at home and he did well over the summer.
"I think we are looking to begin his campaign in the Unibet Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham's November Meeting as that looks a good race to aim for.
"He has rated in the mid-140s and I think there is a lot of improvement still to come off that mark - hopefully he will develop into a proper Graded performer.
"He has run well on soft ground, but wouldn't want it bottomless and has done well on better ground. He finished a good sixth in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
"We will start over two miles and two and a half miles is possible later on in the season as I think he should stay that trip."
landed the Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle back in 2015 and is one two entries for Somerset-based Paul Nicholls in 2018. The 10-time champion Jump trainer has won the Unibet Greatwood Hurdle three times.
Dan Skelton, who achieved 100 winners for the season in record time at Cheltenham on October 26, has three entered, headed by Nube Negra
, who was third in the Boodles Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle
at The Festival™.
Other contenders include recent Welsh Champion Hurdle scorer Silver Streak (Evan Williams).
Ed Nicholson, Unibet's Head of Racing Communications and Sponsorship, said: "The Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle is a recognised early step on the way to The Festival™ present by Magners and is the second of seven races in Unibet's Road to Cheltenham series which culminates with the G1 Unibet Champion Hurdle in March.
"The history of the race is plain to see. Celtic Shot claimed the inaugural running of the Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle in 1987 before taking the coveted hurdling crown itself later that season, while Rooster Booster completed the same feat in 2002.
"Last year's winner, Elgin, finished fifth in the 2018 Unibet Champion Hurdle, while three of the five home in the Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle went on to win G2 races.
"Unibet is extremely proud to be supporting the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle again this season.
"In fact, this is the first running in a new extended five-year sponsorship deal and it is marvellous to see such strength in depth among the outstanding entries."
Unibet Greatwood Hurdle (Grade 3 Handicap)
£100,000 added, 4yo plus, 2m 87y
Going: Good, Good to Soft in places
|| Old Guard 15
||Mr L Williams (5)
||P F Nicholls
|| Verdana Blue (IRE) 8 (ex5)
||N J Henderson
|| Mohaayed 29
|| Charli Parcs (FR) 211
||B J Geraghty
||N J Henderson
|| Western Ryder (IRE) 218
|| Silver Streak (IRE) 29
|| Caius Marcius (IRE) 15
||B S Hughes
||N G Richards
|| Midnight Shadow 32
||Mrs S J Smith
|| Le Patriote (FR) 15
||Dr R D P Newland
|| Irish Roe (IRE) 15
|| Storm Rising (IRE) 16
||Charlie Hammond (5)
||Dr R D P Newland
|| Nube Negra (SPA) 220
|| Equus Amadeus (IRE) 30
|| Brianstorm (IRE) 218
||Miss V Williams
|| Mad Jack Mytton (IRE) 23
|| Vado Forte (FR) 35
||R T Dunne
|| Deyrann de Carjac (FR) 36
|| Not That Fuisse (FR) 17
||William Marshall (10)
|| Nietzsche 16
||Danny McMenamin (7)
|| Man Of Plenty 23
||Sean Houlihan (5)
||Mrs S Leech