Johnson looking forward to unexposed Cheltenian

Cheltenian, successful in the 2011 Champion Bumper, is on the comeback trail in Saturday’s Betfair Hurdle, and jockey Richard Johnson is looking forward to the ride.

The Philip Hobbs-trained eight-year-old is a best-priced 10-1 chance for the Newbury contest, and won his first race over hurdles at Uttoxeter in December.

Johnson was positive when assessing Cheltenian’s chances on Wednesday, and said: “On what he achieved at Uttoxeter it’s probably quite a harsh mark [134], but with the ability he’s got you’d like to think he’s got room to improve.

“He’s very straightforward and Newbury is a galloping track, which I think will suit him well. He has got a lot in his favour. He’s the unexposed horse in the race and we already know he can perform at the highest level.”

One-time favourite Irving was ruled out of the race on Wednesday night by Paul Nicholls, with stablemate Irish Saint heading the market at 5-1.

Source: Racing Post, 6 February 2014


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