Nicky Henderson’s dual Grade 1-winning novice Pentland Hills makes his seasonal debut when he faces off against eight rivals in the Grade 2 International Hurdle at Cheltenham today.
The four-year-old ran only three times over hurdles last season, progressing from a 14-length success on his hurdling debut to be a surprise winner of the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
He proved that win was no fluke at Aintree a month later, when he beat the highly regarded Fakir D’Oudairies by a neck in the Doom Bar Anniversary Juvenile Hurdle.
Pentland Hills’ opponents include stablemate Call Me Lord, Colin Tizzard’s Elixir De Nutz, and the Ciaron Maher-trained Big Blue, who has plied his trade in Australia’s National Hunt sphere.
Cheltenham’s card today also features the Grade 3 Caspian Caviar Gold Cup (2m4f) where the Venetia Williams-trained Cepage could strike due to ante-post favourite Riders Onthe Storm being declared a non-runner by the Nigel Twiston-Davies yard in error.
There is also an intriguing field for the Grade 2 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (2m7f) with Twiston-Davies teaming up with his son Sam on the hot favourite Mossy Fen, who is unbeaten in two starts this season.
Jumps cards are also staged at Fairyhouse (Ireland), Hereford and Doncaster, where Sam Spinner and Windsor Avenue will face off in in the Grade 2 December Novices’ Chase (3m). There is also an all-weather meeting from Wolverhampton today.