Sublime International in prospect

CHAMPION hurdler Sublimity heads a high-class entry of 14 for the International Hurdle at Cheltenham on Saturday.

John Carr’s seven-year-old has not been seen since his devastating performance back in March when he swept past former champions Hardy Eustace and Brave Inca on the run-in.

A strong challenge from Ireland is supplemented by Jazz Messenger from Noel Meade’s yard and Jessica Harrington’s Macs Joy, who was denied a run in the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle when the ground turned heavy.

Afsoun, second in the Ascot Hurdle on his first run of the season, drops back to two miles.

Straw Bear returns, while Katchit, put in his place by Harchibald in the “Fighting Fifth” at Newcastle, could bid to redeem his reputation for the Alan King yard, which could also be represented by former Triumph Hurdle winner Penzance.

Champion trainer Paul Nicholls has two possibles in the shape of Desert Quest, who has been chasing of late, and Gwanako.

Howard Johnson can chose from Arcalis and Mephisto while David Pipe’s Greatwood Hurdle runner-up Osana steps up in class.

The entries are completed by the Nigel Twiston-Davies’ pair of Pigeon Island and Platin Grounds.

Meanwhile Monet’s Garden is unlikely to run over two miles again after his Tingle Creek defeat.

Trainer Nicky Richards was satisfied with the nine-year-old’s third-placed finish but thinks he is ideally suited by a stiffer test of stamina these days.

Richards said: “He was staying on up the hill but he was never going to catch the front two.

“We gave it a go and nothing ventured, nothing gained.

“He seems fine now, we’ll take it easy for a few days and see how things are.

“We are not thinking about any particular races at the moment – we’ll just get a few days out of the way and then we’ll see.

“He probably won’t run at two miles again, the level he is at now.

“I think it proved that his best trip may be two and a half, two miles six, or even three miles on a flat track.

“I wouldn’t have thought we’d run him over two again,” Richards told At The Races.

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