Welsh Champion Hurdle: Sherwood’s Billy To Bounce Back

In-form trainer Oliver Sherwood will hope that Puffin Billy can bounce back to form in the Welsh Champion Hurdle at Ffos Las

Oliver Sherwood will hope that his Puffin Billy can bounce back to form on a return over hurdles in the Welsh Champion Hurdle.  Puffin Billy suffered a heavy fall when running over fences at Ascot, but holds excellent form over the smaller obstacles. Fifth in the Neptune two seasons ago behind five of the very best, he is head and shoulders above in rivals in terms of ability. If he is back at his best he could add another big Saturday prize for his trainer.

In Puffin Billy’s way is the highly regarded Silsol for the Nicholls yard and the classy mare Hidden Identity. Silsol has done little wrong for connections but may just be anchored by his weight in these testing conditions. Hidden Identity on a going day is thrown in at the weights and was not far away at the Festival last March. In what is a competitive renewal Sherwood’s horse gets the nod to bounce back.

At Sandown expect Bristol De Mai and Champagne West to confirm their Cheltenham credentials, with Return Spring to return to form in the Towton at Wetherby.


Chased some talented horses home in his starts, now up in trip and against lesser company the signs are of another good performance. Expect this Evan Williams horse to win.


Very highly regarded as a novice and a battling winner of the former Whitbred at Sandown. In this he may be carrying a top weight but he has the class to be a contender.


Archer would have not missed the style in which this grey took the Grade One Finale at Chepstow on his first UK outing. With that form in the book and festival hopes on the horizon he would have been booked.


Quoted at around 25/1 for Welsh Champion Hurdle success this lucky chancer has plenty of good back-form in the book. If the mare is on a going day she will go close. Fourth last year at the Festival in the Mares Hurdle.

Crockford’s Gambles on Welsh Champion Hurdle Day:

Ffos Las – Village Vic (1.30), Puffin Billy e/w, Silsol e/w and Hidden Identity e/w (Welsh Champion Hurdle 2.05), Global Power and Firebird Flyer e/w (2.40), Albert Bridge e/w (3.10) and Hughesie (3.45)

Sandown – Pain Au Chocolate (12.40), Bristol De Mai (1.15), French Opera (1.50), Champagne West (2.25), El Dancer e/w (3.00) and Hadrian’s Approach e/w (3.35)

Lingfield – Gabrial’s Wawa (2.20)

Wetherby – Pepite Rose (2.10), Ely Brown e/w (2.45), Return Spring (3.20) and Junior (3.55)

(Featured photograph – Ffos Las by Stuart Rice)

Welsh Champion Hurdle: Saphir Du Rheu To Deny Walters

Paul Nicholls’ improving hurdler Saphir Du Rheu to deny Walters another Welsh Champion Hurdle victory

Welsh owner Dai Walters’ Whisper will attract plenty of support at Ffos Las this afternoon.  A winner last time the gelding will look to add another Welsh Champion Hurdle to Walters’ haul. He faces stiff opposition in the form of the progressive Saphir Du Rheu, who looked so impressive when taking the Lanzarote Hurdle. With the useful grey Grand Vision and in form Awaywiththegreys in the field the title of Champion is worthy for this contest. All things considered Saphir Du Rheu should deny Walters of another victory in the race with Home Run holding each way chances.

Walters’ Mountainous will come fresh from his Welsh Grand National win looking to secure a second National at (Ffos Las 2.40). The West Wales National will be a gruelling affair in the mud where stamina is certain to count. Last year’s favourite Alfie Spinner and the talented Junior will stand in the way of a Mountainous National double.

2011Welsh Champion Hurdle winner Oscar Whisky looks certain to continue his winning ways over fences in the Scilly Isles Novice Chase (Sandown 2.25) where his main rival will be Manyriverstocross for the returning to form trainer Alan King.

Crockford’s Dead Cert – Saphir Du Rheu (Welsh Champion Hurdle – Ffos Las 2.05)

Impressive winner of his last two starts and could be anything. The additional weight should not stop his further progression in what is a quality field for the Welsh Champion Hurdle. Expect another win in conditions that are certain to suit this Paul Nicholls star.

Crockford’s Whisper – Tweedledrum e/w (Wetherby 2.45)

This mare stays all day and will be well suited by the soft ground. Do not be put off by her form and wins being in female company as she has the ability to figure in this contest too.

Archer’s Selection – Red Devil Lads (Ffos Las 4.20)

Archer would not have missed how highly regarded this horse is by connections. Plenty of raw talent has been shown on his outings and Archer would have been certain to have wanted the ride on this one.

Crockford’s Gambles around the courses:

Ffos Las – Gate Please (1.30), Saphir Du Rheu and Home Run e/w (2.05), Alfie Spinner and Junior e/w (2.40), Whisky Yankee (3.45), Red Devil Lads (4.20) and Capilla e/w (4.50)

Sandown – Eastlake (1.50), Oscar Whisky (2.25), Tatenen (3.00), Soll (3.35) and Sew On Target (4.10)

Wetherby – Flemenson (1.35), Ultimate (2.10), Tweedledrum e/w (2.45) and Green Flag (3.20)

Lingfield – Prime Exhibit (12.10), Passing Star (1.10), Rebellious Guest (2.55) and Swing Alone (3.30)

Wolverhampton – Fire In Babylon (4.35) and Rohesia (5.05)

Fairyhouse – Suntiep (3.05), Hold Em Cowboy (3.40) and Kayf Hampshire e/w (4.15)


(Featured Photograph – Former Welsh Champion Hurdle winner Oscar Whisky in the rain at Cheltenham by Stuart Rice)