Big effort anticipated from Cross Kennon in World Hurdle

Staffordshire-based Jennie Candlish is already looking forward to running her stable star Cross Kennon in the Grade 1 Ladbrokes World Hurdle and is hoping that the eight-year-old might prove good enough this time to finish in the first three behind the mighty Big Buck’s, writes Elliot Slater.

Cross Kennon ran the race of his in last season’s renewal of the three-mile staying hurdles championship event, keeping on well inside the final half-mile to finish fourth behind the Paul Nicholls-trained superstar, beaten less than six-lengths. Like all the other handlers sending horses to take on Big Buck’s, Candlish doesn’t realistically expert her horse to beat the horse whose remarkable winning streak goes back three-and-a-half-years, but she is hopeful that her charge will be in their pitching for a place at the business end of the contest. People looking at the best 2012 Cheltenham odds need to remember this.

Cross Kennon started out this season with the challenge of making it as a staying novice chaser but clearly did not take to the larger obstacles and ran disappointingly in his two starts over fences, jumping poorly and clearly not enjoying himself in races at Carlisle, and then at Uttoxeter, where he finished last of the four-runner field beaten 86-lengths. A quick change of plan was made and the gelded son of Craigsteel reverted back to hurdles with a respectable effort in finishing fifth to Big Buck’s at Ascot in the Grade 1 Lough Derg Long Walk Hurdle.

At Haydock in mid-February there was even more evidence that the Midlands-based runner is on the way back when he came with a determined challenge at the second last in the Grade 2 Rendlesham Hurdle, but couldn’t sustain the effort at the last, nevertheless putting up a fine run in coming home second to Robin Dickin’s Restless Harry. Bookmakers offer a huge range of odds about Cross Kennon, from as short as 25/1 to as big as 100/1, and he could represent each-way value on a track where he invariably goes well.

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