Pentland Hills is getting ready for next year’s Cheltenham Festival with a race against an unlikely competitor. The double Grade 1 winning hurdler is set to face Australian runner Big Blue in the Unibet International Hurdle this coming Saturday, where he will be put through the paces in an effort to gear up for the 2020’s first big race.
The Nicky Henderson trainee is 11/8 to win with the event sponsors while the Aussie challenger has been attached to odds of 33/1. If you’re looking ahead to the 2020 major, though, you could find a list of all Cheltenham 2020 free bets and sign up offers at freebets.uk.
Pentland Hills will be joined by another Henderson-trained runner in Call Me Lord on Saturday in the wake of the latter’s close loss to If The Cap Fits at Ascot’s Coral Hurdle in November.
“Pentland Hills will run in the International on Saturday and I’m very happy with him and this was the plan,” Henderson said, via Racingpost.com. “He’ll be joined in the race by his stablemate Call Me Lord.”
Big Blue, meanwhile, will be running his first British race after winning the St Leger at Randwick and the Galleywood Hurdle at Warrnambool in his native Australia. But Ciaron Maher, one of his trainers, had hoped for better circumstances.
“I was hoping to start him off in something a little bit easier, but the handicapper hasn’t given him a mark, which means we have to run in conditions races,” Maher said. “It’s not ideal, but there aren’t really any other options for him coming up. We can cruise round and see where he fits in.
“The horse has been over here around a month. His last run was on Melbourne Cup day (November 5) – he travelled over after that. It’s a bit different for him. He has his summer coat on and he obviously came into some cold weather, but he seems fine.”
As it relates to Cheltenham, Pentland Hills is 7/1 to win the Champion Hurdle with most of the top UK bookmakers, including Bet365, Skybet and Ladbrokes. Klassical Dream stands out as the favourite, however, with Bet365 offering odds of 7/2 and Skybet going with 10/3. Saldier is also ahead of Pentland Hills in terms of favoured winners at 9/2 with William Hill and 4/1 with Marathon Bet. Betway has 11/1 on Buveur D’Air and is one of the only sportsbooks offering odds on the French-bred star, while Fusil Raffles is 8/1 with Ladbrokes.
There are plenty more races to bet on where Cheltenham is concerned. The Supreme Novices Hurdle is one of the events garnering much intrigue at the moment and all eyes will be on 5/2 favourite Envoi Allen when he takes to the tracks against the likes of Abcadabras and Unexcepted, who are 8/1 and 9/1, respectively. You could also get 14/1 odds on Lucky One, while Blue Sari is 16/1 and Janidil is 20/1.
The Cheltenham Festival will kick off on Tuesday, March 10 and will come to a close on Friday, March 13.