Darlan Heads 23 For Big Cheltenham Hurdle

Fri 16th Nov 2012, 12:18

©Healy Racing Photos
Ante-post favourite Darlan heads 23 runners for Sunday's Racing Post Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Nicky Henderson's charge finished second in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at the Festival last season before going on to victory at Aintree.

He is already one of the leading contenders for the Champion Hurdle next March.

The five-year-old shoulders top weight of 11-12 jointly along with the Philip Hobbs-trained Snap Tie, who was last seen returning from a long absence with victory at Punchestown.

Paul Nicholls' trio of Prospect Wells, Ted Spread and Dark Lover are in the field along with the likes of the Tom George-trained Olofi, Willie Mullins' Rattan and last year's Galway Hurdle winner Moon Dice.

Henderson also has an interesting second string in former Irish recruit Cash And Go, who will be making his debut for the Seven Barrows handler.

Up-and-coming Irish conditional Robbie Jones has been selected to ride Domination for Charles Byrnes, while the booking of Timmy Murphy takes the eye for outsider Blue Bajan.

GRAND NATIONAL - The Northern Challenge

The Sue Smith-trained Auroras Encore was the last northern-trained horse to win the Grand National back in 2013 but recent victories for that part of the country have been thin on the ground since the likes of Lucius, Rubstic and Hallo Dandy in the late 70s early 80’s showed that steeplechasing was in a healthy state north of the Watford Gap with the likes of Gordon W Richards, Denys Smith, Arthur Stephenson, Peter Easterby and Jimmy Fitzgerald capable of holding their own against their southern and Irish counterparts.