Champion Hurdle, Day One Cheltenham Festival 2012
One of the bankers of the Cheltenham Festival, Hurricane Fly, continues to be imperiously strong at the top of the betting markets for the Stan James Champion Hurdle. Last year’s champion is best priced at odds of 10/11 with Bet365 but is far shorter elsewhere with other firms running for cover with prices around the 4/6 mark.
Willie Mullins superstar hurdler has missed two of the last three Cheltenham Festivals with various injuries but all seems well for the second year in a row and there haven’t been any problems with his work since routing the field in the Irish Champion Hurdle.
He heads to Cheltenham with odds-on favourite chance and it will be a huge shock if anything can turn over what many people think could be the best hurdler since Istabraq.
‘The Fly’ slaughtered the field at the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown in January, beating fourth favourite Oscars Well by a formidable six lengths, and looks the one to beat at Cheltenham.
If Hurricane Fly is to come up short then the most likely candidate to do so is 2010 Champion Hurdler Binocular, who is the only Nicky Henderson runner entered for a race he usually loves to target. There have been suggestions that the quirky individual is back to his best this year and if so, the current 6/1 price could turn out to be a massive price.
Binocular won the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton, beating Rock On Ruby in the process, while also triumphed in the Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton, and this Nicky Henderson charge is sure to push ‘The Fly’ very close.
Paul Nicholls has four runners set to go to post but realistically only Zarkandar and Rock On Ruby have plausible claims of getting involved with Celestial Halo and Brampour surely just running on the request of their owners.
Zarkandar (11/2) is the more fancied of the four runners but his price is centred around more his potential rather than what we have seen thus far on a racecourse.
The winner of the Triumph Hurdle last year, Paul Nicholl’s stager is still unbeaten in the UK but needs to improve .
Rock On Ruby (10/1) looks the more capable to run more a race as his profile is more suited to a race of this nature, as Paul Nicholls horse will not go down without a fight, going a close second to Binocular in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton.
Donald McCain went close with Peddlers Cross last year and will be hoping the same sort of result with Overturn (33/1) while other runners to note are Oscars Well (16/1) and Thousand Stars (50/1).
The race takes place on Day One of the Cheltenham Festival, and with much of the talk surrounding the potential of Hurricane Fly, this race will be watched with eager anticipation.