Thursday 22 March 2018

'Don't write off Punjabi'

Barry Geraghty believes Punjabi has been underestimated ahead of his bid for back-to-back victories in the Champion Hurdle.

The Meath man felt he could not desert Raymond Tooth's gelding for stablemate Zaynar and reports the seven-year-old to be in tip-top form. Nicky Henderson has a powerful hand as he also saddles Binocular

"There is no way I could desert Punjabi when you consider what he's achieved and more important -- how he is right now," he said.

"He looks well, feels well and just seems to be telling you this is his time of year. Whichever way you look at the race, he's going to be bang there. He'll come up that hill and knows what it takes to win and I'm beginning to think he's been an undervalued Champion Hurdler. He has a real big chance.

"As for the opposition, you couldn't have any confidence in Solwhit after his problems. I still see Go Native as my biggest threat. Khyber Kim comes right into it as an improving horse and it wasn't easy for me to desert Zaynar. He'll be right there but stamina is his strength and the Champion Hurdle is run on a much sharper course than the Triumph."

"Punjabi might lack sex appeal, but he has won the race before and wears a crown that says Champion Hurdle on it," said Henderson. "Zaynar was beaten at 1/14 at Kelso but he hated the ground and was in need of the run."

Binocular was touched off by a neck and a head from Punjabi and Celestial Halo 12 months ago and is back in the frame after being virtually ruled out last month.

Irish Independent

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