Last season's G1 JCB Triumph Hurdle hero Defi Du Seuil (Philip Hobbs, 5/1 favourite with Unibet) heads the 47 thrilling entries (up sharply from the 37 entries received in 2016) unveiled today for the £100,000 G3 Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham.
The likely top-weight for the extended two-mile contest, the feature race on the third and final day of The November Meeting, Sunday, November 19, is The New One (Nigel Twiston-Davies, 20/1).
Both horses have done very well at Cheltenham, with The New One a regular participant in Britain's top hurdle, the G1 Unibet Champion Hurdle, at The Festival in March, finishing fifth in 2017, fourth in 2016, fifth in 2015 and third in 2014.
Four-year-old Defi Du Seuil is undefeated in seven starts over hurdles, four of which have come at Cheltenham. In addition to his JCB Triumph Hurdle victory at The Festival in March, he also landed G2 contests at The November Meeting and on Festival Trials Day in January, plus gaining success at The International in December.
He was last seen out when taking the G1 Doom Bar Anniversary 4YO Hurdle at Aintree in April and had been due to run at Cheltenham's first meeting of the season, The Showcase, last weekend but needed softer conditions. His trainer, Somerset-based Philip Hobbs, boasts a superb record in the Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle, having taken the prestigious race four times including with Rooster Booster (2002), who went on to G1 Unibet Champion Hurdle glory later the same season.
The New One is a hugely popular nine-year-old, trained locally by Nigel Twiston-Davies who captured the Unibet Greatwood Hurdle with Khyber Kim in 2009, and has won six times at Cheltenham, headlined by victories in the G1 Ballymore Novices' Hurdle (2013) at The Festival and three renewals of the G2 Unibet International Hurdle (2013, 2015 & 2016) in December.
He recently confirmed his wellbeing with a comfortable success under top-weight in the Welsh Champion Hurdle on his seasonal debut at Ffos Las on October 21.
Nicky Henderson has yet to land the Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle, but has six to choose from in 2017, headed by Divin Bere (8/1), who chased home Defi Du Seuil at Aintree in April. Other possible starters for the Lambourn handler, the current Jump champion trainer, include Call Me Lord (10/1), successful in a competitive Sandown Park juvenile handicap hurdle in April, JCB Triumph Hurdle sixth Charlie Parcs (12/1), Lough Derg Sprit (16/1), Jenkins (20/1) and Verdana Blue (25/1).
Misterton (Harry Fry, 12/1) already has form on the board this season, having taken a competitive two-mile handicap hurdle at Chepstow on October 15, while stable companion Air Horse One (16/1) finished a close fourth in the G3 Randox Health County Hurdle at The Festival in March.
Silver Streak (14/1) made an eye-catching comeback in a two-mile limited handicap hurdle, restricted to four-year-olds, at Chepstow on October 14, when comfortably overcoming Dolos by four and a half lengths.
The grey son of Dark Angel has now triumphed on three of his four starts over hurdles, with his other successes coming last season in two-mile handicaps at Taunton and Musselburgh respectively.
Silver Streak's only defeat happened when he was fourth in a valuable juvenile handicap hurdle at Ascot on April 2.
Evan Williams, who trains in the Vale of Glamorgan, revealed: "Silver Streak is grand and if he gets into the handicap for the Unibet Greatwood Hurdle, the horse will run.
"His performance at Chepstow was a definite improvement compared to when we last saw him because a few of the horses that had beaten him at Ascot were behind him at Chepstow.
"Physically, the horse has improved. He had a tremendous summer back at home with his owner who did a hell of a good job on him.
"It will be harder for him next time because the race at Chepstow was for four-year-olds only and the handicapper didn't miss him with an 8lb hike in the ratings. It is difficult for four-year-olds and that was a big rise for a young horse. The handicapper could be right or wrong and the only way to find out is to run Silver Streak against the older horses.
"We have always thought he wanted nice jumping ground, which is what it was at Chepstow. As long as it isn't extremely soft, I can't see ground inconveniencing him."
Paul Nicholls has a great record in the Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle, with the Somerset trainer sending out three winners of the race - Rigmarole in 2003, Brampour in 2011 and Old Guard in 2015.
Old Guard (33/1) is entered again this year, alongside Amour De Nuit (20/1), High Secret (33/1) and Zubayr (20/1).
The Unibet Greatwood Hurdle has twice gone to Ireland, courtesy of Space Trucker (1996) and Sizing Europe (2007), and there are nine Irish-trained entries this year (up from five in 2016).
These include Campeador (Gordon Elliott IRE 14/1), a very promising juvenile in the 2015/16 season and a comfortable winner at Punchestown last month, plus the Joseph O'Brien-trained pair of Tigris River (14/1), successful in the very valuable Galway Hurdle over the summer, and the 2016 JCB Triumph Hurdle hero Ivanovich Gorbatov (16/1).
Weights for the Unibet Greatwood Hurdle will be revealed on Wednesday, November 8.
Brett Williams, the Unibet PR spokesperson, said: "Unibet is extremely proud to be supporting the Greatwood Hurdle and this year's renewal has attracted an outstanding list of entries.
"Unibet Champion Hurdle hope Defi Du Seuil, who missed his intended seasonal debut last month, heads our ante-post book. He is Unibet's 5/1 favourite to claim the second leg of our eight-race Unibet Road to Cheltenham series.
"Unibet ambassador Nicky Henderson could be well represented with the likes of Fred Winter second Divin Bere and the highly-regarded Charli Parcs.
"Firmly established as a major Champion Hurdle prelude, Celtic Shot claimed the inaugural running in 1987 before being taking the coveted hurdling crown later that season, while Rooster Booster completed the same feat in the 2002/03 campaign.
"It is clear the Unibet Greatwood Hurdle will have a significant impact on the Unibet Champion Hurdle next March and we're delighted to be part of the journey."
Unibet Greatwood Hurdle, Unibet betting: 5/1 Defi du Seuil; 8/1 Divin Bere; 10/1 Call Me Lord; 12/1 Misterton, Charli Parcs; 14/1 Campeador, Tigris River, Silver Streak; 16/1 Nietzsche, Elgin, Caid du Lin, Lough Derg Spirit, Mick Jazz, Midnight Maestro, Ivanovich Gorbatov, Mohaayed, London Prize, Poker Play, Air Horse One, Flying Tiger, Chesterfield;
20/1 A Hare Breath, Chateau Conti, William H Bonney, Amour de Nuit, Clayton, Lagostovegas, Zubayr, Mount Mews, Charbel, Song Light, Jenkins, The New One, Don Bersy, Veinard; 25/1 Verdana Blue, Man of Plenty, Project Bluebook, Gassin Golf, Grand Partner, Top Othe Ra, Golden Spear; 33/1 High Secret, Night of Sin, Most Celebrated, Old Guard
E/W terms: ¼ odds 1,2,3,4
There are three days of terrific racing during The November Meeting at Cheltenham, which starts on Friday, November 17, Countryside Day, continues on Saturday, November 18, BetVictor Gold Cup Day, and concludes on Sunday, November 19, The November Meeting Sunday.