Champion Hurdle Tips – Day 1 – Cheltenham 2015
The Champion Hurdle is a race that never fails to produce a ride of excitement from start to finish, and Tuesday’s renewal (3.20) is shaping up to be no different.
Faugheen Ready To Fire
All eyes will be on Willie Mullins’, Faugheen, who is unbeaten in all eight career outings – a record that has seen punters smash him into evens favoritism. This 7yo announced himself onto the big stage when landing last year’s Neptune Novices’ Hurdle at the festival (2m5f, good), before securing his second Grade 1 at Punchestown.
It was more of the same when reappearing at Ascot in November, landing a Grade 2 before mopping up a third Grade 1 at Kempton on Boxing Day. There haven’t been many horses to get him off the bridle as yet, and his formidable record has scared many of the opposition away, although the reigning champ, Jezki (9/2), will not relinquish his crown easily.
Hurricane Fly v Jezki
Jessica Harrington’s 7yo has already been involved in a number of battles with old foe, Hurricane Fly (8/1) this season, losing out on three occasions to the old warrior. But as we know, Jezki comes alight at this time of year, and with the sun shining, he may well bring his A game to the track.
As for Hurricane Fly, then the 2011 and 2013 Champion Hurdle winner can never be written off, but the overall feeling is that he saves his best for Leopardstown these days, the venue of his three victories this season. He has been beaten in two Champion Hurdles either side of his victories here, and his best chance may come if rain arrives, although that’s looking unlikely. A third Champion Hurdle would bring the house down, and at 8/1, who could dismiss the 11yo.
Hurricane Fly will have to be at his very best if seeing off the younger legs of fellow 7yo’s, Faugheen, and The New One (3/1), with the latter a big threat to all. Nigel Twiston-Davies’ runner has won all four outings this season, but hasn’t really improved on ratings, and was held when third behind Jezki here 12 months (beaten around 3l).
But, could there be a shock due? Well, with winners of this race at 9/1, 11/1, 9/1, 22/1, 10/1 and 16/1 since 2007, the likes of Arctic Fire could make some each-way appeal at 14/1. Runner-up in the County Hurdle here 12 months ago, he has seen the backside of Hurricane Fly the last twice (beaten 2l & 3l).
Kitten Rock also deserves a mention as not many improving 5yo’s that can boast a record of 6-8 over hurdles are available at 25/1, and while he usually wins at Grade 2/3 level, he deserves to take his chance.
This really is the day when we find out how good Faugheen could be, as he is pitched in against past Champion Hurdle winners, Jezki and Hurricane Fly. So, far, Faugheen has simply blown everything away, and there is no reason to think this hurdling machine will stop now, especially as he has never been forced to show his full potential. That time could be now.