Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Everything Points to Hardy Eustace

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Everything Points to Hardy Eustace

Article excerpt

Byline: By Doug Moscrop

History is very much on the side of Hardy Eustace to collect the laurels again in the Smurfit Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham today.

Last year's victory was no fluke and he has maintained that level of form this winter despite not having his favoured ground or blinkers.

Trainer Dessie Hughes reports an uninterrupted preparation and that is so important when it comes to getting a horse there on the day at the top of his form.

Hughes also says that Hardy Eustace is stronger and better than 12 months ago and his ability to be adaptable in a race and the fact that you know he stays further also strengthen his credentials.

He hasn't worn blinkers since winning his first Champion Hurdle and he doesn't need them, but Hughes feels they help to sharpen him up for the one prize that really matters.

His record at the Festival is two from two, having also landed the Royal & SunAlliance Novices' Hurdle in 2003, and he has always been at his best in the spring.

While he may not enjoy such an easy lead this time, that won't bother him as long as there is an end-to-end gallop, and everything points to him coming to the boil at the right time.

Rooster Booster has had his moment of glory here and I will be more than surprised if the veteran can regain his title.

It's odds-on that the prize will go to Ireland who have other major players in addition to Hardy Eustance.

You couldn't help but be impressed with Harchibald's victory in the "Fighting Fifth" Hurdle and his subsequent victory over former champion Rooster Booster in Kempton's Christmas Hurdle.

He is much improved, but it's difficult to forget the way he faded up the hill in last season's County Hurdle under bottom weight and he has yet to prove himself at this venue. A flat track suits him better.

Back In Front has a great record over the course, his latest victory coming in the Bula Hurdle, and how he relished the final hill. He was an emphatic winner of the 2003 Supreme Novices' Hurdle and it's hard to see him not finishing in the first three. …

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