American-trained horse Winston C given surprise Champion Hurdle entry as 27 in line for race at Cheltenham Festival

FORGET the Irish, the Americans could be making their way over to the Cheltenham Festival.

US-trained Winston C is one of 27 entries for the Unibet Champion Hurdle – the feature on the opening day of the Festival.

Defending champion Epatante and two-time winner Buveur D'Air are also amongst those in the mix.

But it's the formerly Jonathan Sheppard-trained Winston C that catches the eye the most.

The seven-year-old has spent time at Harry Fry's and Michael Bell's in England, but has won two Grade 1s since being shipped to the States.

Sheppard – a member of the US Hall of Fame – officially retired last month and handed the reins to long-time assistant Keri Brion, but has always loved the Festival.

All the way back in 1987 he sent out Flatterer to finish runner-up in this very race.

Sheppard and Brion have moved six horses to Ireland in the hope of finding some prizes to aim at with their big guns.

And Sheppard's love affair with the Festival is clearly still burning bright.

Nicky Henderson holds seven entries in total, with Marie's Rock, Call Me Lord, Verdane Blue and Buzz added to Epatante and Buveur D'Air.


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Recent Kempton winner Silver Streak and Gary Moore's Goshen are other big names on the entries.

Tom Symonds has entered Song For Someone, the recent International Hurdle winner at Cheltenham.

He said: "Song For Someone is in great form and the plan would be to either run in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham or the Aintree Hurdle. We have entered him in the Champion Hurdle and we will make a decision nearer the time.

"I am absolutely thrilled with him at home. He is very well and seems to have come out of the International in great form.

"There are three races we are currently weighing up with one of them acting as his prep before one of the big spring festivals.

"He could go to Haydock for The New One Unibet Hurdle a week on Saturday, the Contenders Hurdle at Sandown Park or the Kingwell at Wincanton.

"The Champion Hurdle is firmly in the picture and it would be great to have a runner in a championship race like that.

"It is great to have a horse like him."

Unibet Champion Hurdle Odds

9/4 Epatante

7/1 Sharjah

9/1 Saint Roi

10/1 Silver Streak

12/1 Aspire Tower

14/1 Honeysuckle

16/1 Abacadabras, Concertista, Song For Someone

20/1 Buveur d’Air, Goshen, Saldier

33/1 Jason The Militant, Verdana Blue, Sceau Royal

40/1 Not So Sleepy, Buzz

50/1 Coeur Sublime, Ballyandy

66/1 Maries Rock, Petit Mouchoir, Beacon Edge, For Pleasure, James du Berlais

100/1 Call Me Lord, Ribble Valley, Winston C



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