Unless you are possessed with a bulky Cheltenham betting fund, backing Hurricane Fly (10/11 with Paddy Power) to win the Champion Hurdle is probably not a financially rewarding investment.
Willie Mullins stable star rates as the most likely winner, but isn’t trading at a price that is going to interest the working man.
Many punters will look for alternative bets to strike on the race, with the without Hurricane Fly market sure to attract plenty of interest.
In simple terms, if Hurricane Fly wins the race, which looks almost certain, then the idea is to predict which horse will past the post next.
Binocular and Paul Nicholls’ Zarkandar are priced up as near joint favourites in the market but the value looks to lie at the hooves of Rock On Ruby, who is rated as a 5/1 shot in the without Hurricane Fly market.
There is every reason to think that the Nicholls second-string will finish in front of both his stablemate and the 2010 Champion Hurdler.
Binocular has beaten the selection this season in a real head bobber of a finish in the Christmas Hurdle but the flat-track nature at Kempton never really played to the strengths of Rock On Ruby and a return to Cheltenham should see that form reversed.
Zarkandar, on form line purposes anyway, has at least 10 lengths to find on his less fancied stablemate.
Take for instance both their respective runs first time out this season in two different Newbury handicaps run over the same distance and on the same ground.
Rock On Ruby landed the Gerry Feilden Hurdle in impressive fashion, and beat Alan King’s Raya’s Star by 10 and a half lengths carrying 13lbs more in the handicap.
Zarkandar on the other hand won the Betfair Hurdle in workmanlike fashion, and only beat Raya Star by one and a quarter lengths, carrying 11lbs more.
True, Zarkandar was found to be suffering with the stable virus that infected Nicholls’ yard, but 10 lengths is a huge amount of distance to make up, even if accounting for his so-called underperformance.
Rock On Ruby also has good course form and ran a close second in the Neptune Novices last season, where the last five winners have gone on to finish 11233 in the following year’s Champion.
Take a chance on the Nicholls second string at a juicy looking 5/1.