Sir Valentino will attempt to bounce back to winning ways when he takes a drop in class in the 32Red Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton on Tuesday.
Having claimed the Haldon Gold Cup on his penultimate start, the Tom George-trained seven-year-old was only beaten just over five lengths when upped to Grade One company for the first time in the Tingle Creek at Sandown earlier this month.
Sir Valentino is one of nine entries that have been received for the Grade Two contest over two miles.
Nicky Henderson has entered Altior, who also holds an engagement in the Wayward Lad Novices’ Chase on the same card, and Vaniteux.
The Seven Barrows handler won the race 12 months ago with Sprinter Sacre.
The Gary Moore-trained Sire De Grugy, runner up in last year’s renewal, could bid to go one better and add to his 2013 victory, while the Henry de Bromhead-trained Special Tiara, winner of the race in 2014, is the sole Irish entry.
The list is completed by Garde La Victoire (Philip Hobbs), Marracudja (Paul Nicholls), Savello (Dan Skelton) and Ultragold (Colin Tizzard).
Nicky Henderson has entered Altior and Buveur D’Air in the 32Red.com Wayward Lad Novices’ Chase.
The former is ante-post favourite for the Arkle Trophy at the Cheltenham Festival and has made a seamless transition to fences this winter, having won the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham in March.
Altior does, though, also hold an entry in the 32Red Desert Orchid Chase on the same card.
Grade One-winning stablemate Buveur D’Air, who was third in the Supreme, similarly looked the part on his chasing debut at Haydock last weekend.
Henry de Bromhead could send a strong squad across from Ireland for the Grade Two over two miles.
De Bromhead has in contention Some Plan, Three Stars and Ordinary World – though all three horses also have engagements at Leopardstown over Christmas.
Colla Pier, trained and owned by David Peter Dunne, might run for Ireland, too.
Marracudja is a leading home contender for Paul Nicholls, but like Altior is in the Desert Orchid.
Solatentif, Zigger Zagger, Mrsrobin and Stephanie Frances are others in the hat.
The 32Red Christmas Hurdle is part of the supporting card to the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.
The Fighting Fifth Hurdle has proven the key trial race for this in recent times with five of the last 12 winners running in it prior to taking this.
Nicky Henderson and Irish trainers have between them won 11 of the last 12 renewals.
Below we take a look at the trends for the past ten runnings:
Age (for age purposes we’ll assume 2010-11 renewal was run in 2010)
8 of 10 winners were aged 6 or 7, the only winner aged older than 7 was a previous winner of the race.
6yos have the strongest individual record, winning 6 of 10 from less than 30% of total runners.
4yos have a poor record, having gained just 1 place from 12 runners, this included the 2012 unplaced favourite, Countrywide Flame.
8 of 10 winners finished in first 3 last time out (5 won)
8 of 10 winners posted an RPR of 154+ in last hurdles start
7 of 10 winners were second or third season hurdlers (3 exceptions finished in first 3 in previous year’s race)
9 of 10 winners had had 6 to 17 previous hurdles starts
8 of 10 winners had previously won a grade 1
5 of 10 winners had won at Kempton previously (4 of 5 others having first course start)
Ascot Hurdle winner (Yanworth): 31 (1-0-2)
Punchestown Champion Hurdle winner (Vroum Vroum Mag): F1 (1-0-2)
Scottish Champion Hurdle winner (Ch’Tibello): 2252 (0-3-4)
International Hurdle winner (The New One): 2 (0-1-1)
Champion Hurdle Trial winner (The New One): 2 (0-1-1)
5 of 10 winners ran in previous year’s race, finishing 42311
4 of 10 winners ran in the Fighting Fifth last time, finishing 1321
4 of 10 winners ran in the Champion Hurdle, finishing P011
3 of 10 winners ran in Punchestown Champion Hurdle, finishing 431
4 of 5 second season hurdler winners ran in Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, finishing 7122 (other won Neptune)
3 of 5 Irish-trained winners ran in Evening Herald Champion Novice Hurdle, finishing 341
2 of 5 Irish-trained winners ran in Morgiana Hurdle, finishing 22
2 of 5 GB-trained winners (last 2) ran in Top Novices’ Hurdle, finishing 11
2 of 5 GB-trained winners (last 2) ran in Betfair Hurdle, finishing F1
2 of 5 GB-trained winners ran in Contenders Hurdle, finishing 11 (both Binocular)
Nicky Henderson (4-0-13) has won 4 of the last 6 runnings, twice with Binocular, Darlan & My Tent Or Yours. He also trained the winner in 2000 & 2001.
Willie Mullins (2-0-2) won this with Faugheen for past 2 years.
Nigel Twiston-Davies (0-2-3) has seen 2 of his 3 runners make the frame.
Irish trained runners (5-1-6) have won winning 7 of the last 12 runnings and they have not been represented 4 of the other 5 renewals. Noel Meade (3-1-4), has been most responsible for most of this success but Willie Mullins has won last 2.
Last 7 winners were sent off 3/1 or shorter
The longest priced winner in the past 10 years was 10/1 in 2006, the last 7 winners came from first 2 in the betting.
Favourite (4-2-10) has won 4 of last 10 renewals but shows a level stakes loss of 2.51.
Based on trends from the past 10 years you are looking for a horse:
– Aged 6 or 7
– Finished in first 3 last time out (ideally won)
– Posted an RPR of 154+ on last hurdles start
– Previously won a grade 1 hurdle (or grade 2 winner that placed in a grade 1)
– Second or third season hurdler (or finished in first 3 in previous year’s race)
– Previously run 6 to 17 times over hurdles
– Course winner (or having first run at Kempton)
– Finished in first 3 in Fighting Fifth last time out
– Finished in first 4 in 2015 Christmas Hurdle
– Finished in first 4 in 2016 Punchestown Champion Hurdle or Herald Champion Novice Hurdle
– Ran in Champion Hurdle or Supreme Novices’ at Cheltenham 2016
– Trained by Nicky Henderson or Willie Mullins
– Priced 3/1 or lower