Agrapart and Unowhatimeanharry both bidding for second Cleeve victory

Improvers Midnight Shadow and Paisley Park also in mix

  • Monday 21 January
  • News
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Two past winners, Agrapart and Unowhatimeanharry, feature among 14 entries for the galliardhomes.com Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham on Saturday.

The former, trained by Nick Williams, took this Grade Two prize last year – while Harry Fry’s Unowhatimeanharry was successful in 2017.

Emma Lavelle’s Paisley Park and Colin Tizzard’s West Approach, who were first and second respectively in the Grade One JLT Hurdle at Ascot last month, could renew rivalry.

Aux Ptits Soins got back to winning ways for Dan Skelton last time out and seems likely to take his chance.

“I think we are going there. I just want to keep a close eye on the ground,” said Skelton.

“I know immediately afterwards, when John (Hales, owner) was there, I said we would go straight to the Stayers’ Hurdle – but we thought we would work back from that day and we could be getting weight off a few in the Cleeve, so let’s have a look at that.

“What is probably the most important thing is that if he wasn’t in such good form I would not have entered him. He is in really good order, so we have given him an entry – and will have a look.

“Last time was a step back in the right direction, but they have got to prove it to go that last step in that type of league. Talking won’t prove it, so let’s go see.”

Danny Cook is looking forward to continuing his association with Midnight Shadow following their victory in the Relkeel Hurdle at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day.

The jockey does not expect this extra distance to be a problem for the talented Sue Smith-trained six-year-old.

“He’s getting stronger and is stepping up in trip to three miles. He’s a serious beast of an animal now,” Cook told www.sportinglife.com.

“He was travelling so well last time I nearly took it up two out. I took a pull, dropped him in behind the two leaders, and I could have picked them up whenever I wanted. It could have been three out, two out – and I’ve just hung on to him going to the last, and he’s asserted.

“I think he’ll get the extra three furlongs well.”

Lil Rockerfeller and Black Op could revert to hurdles after trying fences, while others in a quality list include Sam Spinner and Wholestone.

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