Updated on 09/17/2011 10:03AM

Rhinestone Cowboy puts record on line at Cheltenham


Rhinestone Cowboy puts his unbeaten hurdling record on the line in the Smurfit Champion Hurdle as the world's biggest jump racing meeting, the three-day National Hunt Festival, gets under way at Cheltenham on Tuesday.

Rhinestone Cowboy's only career defeat in seven outings came in controversial circumstances in a flat race at the 2002 Cheltenham Festival. He has not come off the bridle in his four starts over obstacles and runs here rather than in the much easier Supreme Novices' Hurdle earlier on the card which is restricted to horses that have not won over hurdles before May 2002.

His two biggest rivals for the $280,000 first prize are Intersky Falcon and Rooster Booster. Like Rhinestone Cowboy, Intersky Falcon is trained by Jonjo O'Neill and he too has won all four of his races this season.

Rooster Booster, trained by Philip Hobbs, is also looking to complete a sequence of five straight wins. Remarkably improved at the age of nine, he is the course specialist among the leading contenders having been successful on his last three visits to this venue.

The other fancied candidates are Irish raider Like-A-Butterfly, winner of nine of her ten career starts but suited by softer ground than is likely here, and Hors La Loi II and Marble Arch, who filled the first two places in what looked a modest renewal of this race 12 months ago and both winless since then.