With Rock On Ruby, Grandouet and Zarkandar all lining up for the International Hurdle at Cheltenham this afternoon punters will see who has Champion potential

Follow Crockford on course today at Cheltenham on Twitter at Crockford@deadcerts

In what is potentially the best indication of who will be crowned Champion hurdler in March; three heavy weights of hurdling should fight out the finish for the International title. The reigning Champion Rock On Ruby makes his seasonal debut for Fry whose main danger may well be his former stablemate and recent winner Zarkandar. Ruby Walsh will be looking to beat his namesake in what could be heavy conditions, whilst Fry will be looking to have the beating of his former colleague Paul Nicholls. However, the International is hardly a two horse race with the highly regarded Henderson horse Grandouet making his seasonal reappearance. Crockford believes that Fry will put the heat on the Champion trainer and will see Rock on Ruby land the spoils.

The big handicap could provide Nicholls with another Saturday big race bonus in the shape of his useful Cristal Bonus. Nicholls is also represented by the 4 year old novice Unioniste who is bottom weight and will have the assistance of Harry Derham on his back. Crockford, believes that the younger horse will find it tough against his more experienced rivals, with the rejuvenated Wishful Thinking and Pipe’s Notus De La Tour being strong contenders. Walkon (many people’s idea of the winner) had a hard race last time and may prove that he only truly runs well fresh.

Other Festival hopefuls should continue winning sequences with Far West, Coneygree and Oscar Whiskey looking like bankers. Beyond Cheltenham there are some interesting entries at Fairyhouse, Doncaster, Lingfield and a mammoth fourteen race card at Wolverhampton.

Crockford’s Dead Cert – Coneygree (1.55 Cheltenham)

At the Cheltenham Open Meeting Tom Scudamore told punters that this horse was well liked and would win and win impressively against highly regarded horses he did. Against more experienced but probably weaker company he looks a Dead Cert to continue his winning march towards the Festival.

Coneygree will continue his winning run today

Crockford’s Whisper – Cristal Bonus e/w (2.30 Cheltenham)

Nicholls is very sweet on his new batch of potential stars and Cristal Bonus is amongst them. Crockford expects a big run from this rising star at an attractive price.

Archer’s Selection – Alderwood (12.45 Fairyhouse)

Going well when loosing his footing on his debut run over fences, Archer would not help to be attracted to this ride. A winning performance certainly looks a likely outcome today.

Crockford’s gambles around the courses:

Cheltenham –  Far West (12.10), Oiseau De Nuit (1.20), Coneygree (1.55), Cristal Bonus e/w and Wishful Thinking e/w (2.30), Rock on Ruby (3.05) and Oscar Whiskey (3.40)

Doncaster – Rocky Creek (1.00), Vasco Du Ronceray (2.45) and Ikorodu Road e/w (3.20)

Fairyhouse – Alderwood (12.45) and Apt Approach (2.25)

Wolverhampton – Liliana (3.50), English Summer (4.50), Idol Deputy (5.20), Rakticate (7.20), Fathsta e/w (8.50) and Angelo Poliziano (9.20)

Lingfield – Minella Class (1.45)


(Featured Photograph – Far West and Vasco Du Ronceray at Cheltenham by Stuart Rice)

(Photograph – Coneygree charges towards the Cheltenham winning line by Stuart Rice)