Friday 15th March: 2:10 – Cheltenham – 2m 1f (2m 179y) (New) Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) (Class 1) (5yo+)

The Philip Hobbs trained Crooks Peak has made a very pleasing start to his hurdling career since finishing tailed off in last season’s Champions Bumper at The Festival. In fact he has won on all three of his starts over hurdles culminating in winning at Newbury on his handicap debut in a Class 3 race.

Today’s assignment is on a different level as he is being pitched into a Grade 3 contest. In his favour is the fact that the handicapper gave him a relatively low official rating going into the Newbury race and he clearly took full advantage of it. He runs off a 5lb penalty today so another good run looks a distinct possibility.

He has run here twice previously, winning a Listed National Hunt Flat Race in November 2017 and has experience of The Festival atmosphere with his run last year.

The underfoot conditions should suit today as he won at Newbury in similar ground. He has won on five of his seven starts over the race distance and has the assistance of Champion Jockey Richard Johnston in the saddle. We do not know how good Crooks Peak is, running in a Graded race for the first time, but he has not put a foot wrong in his hurdling career so far and at 12/1 looks a reasonable each way bet.

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