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  • 15:15 StanJames.com Greatwood Hurdle 2m 110y

  • (Grade 3 Handicap) £100,000 added 4yo+ 15 ran
  • Winner £56,950 2nd £21,370 3rd £10,700 4th £5,330
  • Going: Soft, Heavy in places
  • Surface: Turf
    Weighed In
  • Winning time: 4m 6.90s
  • Off time: 15:19:27

Barry Geraghty rides Vaniteux in Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham on Sunday

Last Updated: 15/11/14 10:58pm

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Geraghty: Rides Vaniteux.

Geraghty: Rides Vaniteux.

Views from connections ahead of the StanJames.com Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham on Sunday.

Barry Geraghty has identified Vaniteux's progressive streak as being a major weapon in the StanJames.com Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham on Sunday.

The Irish jockey partnered the Nicky Henderson-trained five-year-old in all of his four starts in his first season over jumps, including when finishing an excellent third to Vautour in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

Geraghty is demonstrating his faith in the horse by travelling over to ride him rather than be in action nearer home, where he could have been aboard Champion Hurdle winner Jezki in the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown.

"You'd have to be very hopeful. He's a horse we think an awful lot of," said Geraghty. "I actually rode him work when he was in Ireland and I liked him then.

"He's progressed well since he joined Nicky. He had a good season last year and hopefully he's heading in the right direction."

While Vaniteux has not raced since March, Exitas has shown he is in the form of his life when completing a hat-trick at Sandown last weekend.

However, his trainer Phil Middleton is hoping that race has not bottomed him.

The Aylesbury trainer said: "There is more to come from the horse. I ran him at Sandown to make sure he would get in the Greatwood but, as it turned out, he would have got in anyway.

"It could have been a mistake to go to Sandown but what we do know for sure now after Sandown is that he is a better horse with a bit of cut in the ground.

"I always thought he would be better with cut and so it has been proved. He has feet like soup plates and his knee action has told us all along that soft ground would suit him.

"We have run him on good ground in the past and got away with it, but we never ran him when there was firm in the going description. We will go to Cheltenham knowing that both the track and ground will suit him."

Jonjo O'Neill feels a gelding operation could be the making of Goodwood Mirage, who made a pleasing reappearance over hurdles this season with victory at Wetherby a month ago.

"Goodwood Mirage was very disappointing last season but he was gelded during the summer and had a chip taken out of a joint and seems to be better," said the Jackdaws Castle trainer.

"We then ran him on the Flat at Haydock and he was terrible but he came back and did his job nicely at Wetherby over hurdles.

"He will have to improve again. He is high in the handicap and hopefully the handicapper is right."

Philip Hobbs has had the Greatwood as a long-term target for Garde La Victoire and is praying Cheltenham does not get too much rain to scupper his prospects.

The five-year-old put up an encouraging display on his return when third to Hawk High at Aintree three weeks ago.

"He wouldn't want the ground very soft so we will just have to see what happens by Sunday," the Somerset handler told At The Races.

"His jumping hasn't been the most natural and he's only five so if he stays over hurdles this season (before he goes chasing) that might be a good thing.

"I'm sure he's going to stay two and a half miles in time, but he's got plenty of pace and he's a bit keen so two miles for the moment is OK.

"It's been the plan for a long time."

While optimistic Pine Creek not to disgrace himself, trainer John Ferguson expects the Doyen gelding to come on for his first race since the Ladbroke last December.

Pine Creek ran respectably in this contest 12 months ago, when sixth to Dell' Arca.

"I think he'll run well, but I think he'll improve for the run," said Ferguson.

Olofi is a former winner of the race but has not been seen since April 2013, when he unseated Paddy Brennan on his first outing in a novice chase at Wetherby. 

He has dropped to a mark 1lb lower than which he claimed the 2012 Greatwood Hurdle, with trainer Tom George pleased with what he has seen at home. 

"I'm really looking forward to getting him back in action," said the Slad handler. "Everything looks to be in his favour for a good run. 

"He loves Cheltenham, will like the ground, and is 1lb lower than when he won the race. He has also been pleasing me at home. What isn't in his favour is that he hasn't run for so long, but he's had a schooling race and that will hopefully have put an edge on him."

       

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