The Welsh Champion Hurdle has been won by smart performers such as Oscar Whisky, Saphir Du Rheu, Garde La Victoire and fan favourite The New One in recent years, and went the way of subsequent Champion Hurdle third Silver Streak 12 months ago, which is a clear indication of the quality required to land this valuable early season prize.
A competitive field of 11 will go to post at 4.15 tomorrow, led by top-weight Mohaayed, who placed fourth off a 6lbs lower mark 12 months ago. He will be joined by the the class dropping Clyne, who will compete from a 1lb higher mark than when chasing home The New One in 2017, and last years runner-up Le Prezien, who will bid to go one place better off a 2lbs lower mark. However, all three will be saddled with plenty of weight and it may pay to look for a potentially well handicapped rival who still has scope for progression.
Monsieur Lecoq fits the bill.
Jane Williams’ five-year-old scored over this course and distance last December before hacking-up at Sandown off a mark of 122. He returned to the Esher track to place second in the hugely competitive Imperial Cup off a mark of 135 in March, and was perhaps feeling the effects of that outing when placing tenth in the County Hurdle at Cheltenham just 6 days later.
Monsieur Lecoq could easily have more to come following his summer break and his canny trainer is very good at placing those in her care. The 2 mile trip and soft ground rate ideal conditions, and Chester Williams, who was on board in the Imperial Cup, will take a handy 5lbs off the youngsters back.
Needless to say, he will have to improve in order to challenge those towards the head of the weights. However, the french-bred makes plenty of appeal with the track, trip, ground and his riders claim all in his favour.
Monsieur Lecoq – 2pt win at 10/3 (Bet365)