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Cheltenham International Hurdle Preview –Saturday 16th December

Last updated: December 15, 2017 by Leon Marshal

The most valuable race on the card at Cheltenham on Saturday is the £130,000 Grade 2 International Hurdle at 3.05.

The race is over an extended two miles and is regarded as a significant trial for the Champion Hurdle in March. The roll of honour includes Pendil (1970), Bula (1972), Comedy Of Errors (1973 and 1974), Sea Pigeon (1975) and Rooster Booster (2002). Three horses have been successful three times in the race. Birds Nest won it in 1977, 1978 and 1980.

Relkeel won for three consecutive seasons between 1997 and 1999 and The New One joined the last season. He had won in 2013 and 2014 but missed the race in 2015 in favour of the Christmas Hurdle. He returned last season to beat My Tent Or Yours and Old Guard. Trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies was also successful with Khyber Kim in 2009 and is level with Bob Turnell on four victories in the race.

Two horses jumping over the hurdles at Cheltenham racecourse

The New One chasing fourth victory

The New One’s prospects of winning a Champion Hurdle appear to have gone at the age of nine. Nonetheless, he is still a force to be reckoned with in the top hurdling events. The son of King’s Theatre returned to action at Ffos Las in October to win the Welsh Champion Hurdle. He then ran a fine race under 11st 12lbs to finish fourth to Elgin in the valuable Greatwood Hurdle.

Although The New One is the highest rated hurdler in the field but he faces an improving rival in Melon. Willie Mullins recently plundered the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury and has his sights set on another big prize. Melon was one of the best-backed horses at last season’s Cheltenham Festival when second to Labaik in the Supreme Hurdle.

Melon was again heavily backed at Punchestown but this time found Cilaos Emery too good and was beaten a length. He reappeared at Down Royal last month for a comfortable success in a Grade 2 event.

My Tent Or Yours represents Nicky Henderson

The New One is not the only veteran in the field with Nicky Henderson’s My Tent Or Yours also set to start. He has finished runner-up in three Champion Hurdles and is now ten years of age. He was beaten by stable companion Buveur D’Air in March and has finished runner-up in both subsequent races.

He was beaten by the same horse in the two and a half mile Aintree Hurdle and was then second to Wicklow Brave at Punchestown. He runs well fresh so fitness should not be an issue but he has not won since 2014. He is set to receive 6lbs from The New One on Saturday which gives him a great chance of ending his long losing run.

Many horses running down the final strait at Cheltenham racecourse

Old Guard steps back up in grade after winning a Newbury handicap for Paul Nicholls, He finished ahead of The New One in the Greatwood Hurdle but was receiving 19lbs. The New One is 17lbs better off this weekend and should reverse the form. Ch’Tibello represents Dan Skelton, runner-up to Yanworth in the Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton in February. He has not raced since but receives 6lbs from the favourite and is another with claims.

Cheltenham International Hurdle Betting Tips

The New One @13/8 Ladbrokes

The Cheltenham International Hurdle is due off at 3.05 on Saturday 16th December and will be shown live on ITV4.