Four-time champion jockey and 22-time Cheltenham Festival winner Richard Johnson has picked out the Gordon Elliott-trained star Teahupoo to land one of the biggest prizes at the Festival in March – the Stayers’ Hurdle.
Teahupoo was a stunning winner of the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle in December and has been backed by Johnson to continue that form into the biggest meeting of them all at Prestbury Park in March.
The seven-year-old was sent off a 9/4 favourite for the Stayers’ Hurdle last year but could only finish third, beaten by stablenate and a surprise 33/1 shot Sire Du Berlais, also trained by Elliott.
Teahupoo will be back again this year, with the horse unlikely to run between now and the Festival in order to keep him fresh for the biggest race of his season.
Speaking to The Winners Enclosure, Johnson has backed Teahupoo to go a couple of places better this year off the back of his superb Fairyhouse victory in December, beating warm favourite Impaire Et Passe for Willie Mullins.
Johnson said: “Teahupoo was very impressive on his seasonal comeback. He was only just beaten in the race last year and the connections have decided he is not going to run again until the Stayers’ Hurdle.
“It is a brave thing to do, but they know he is very good when fresh. For me that is a real sign that they think he has a very good chance in what looks to be a very open race. For me he is a definite strong fancy for Gordon Elliott.”