Cheltenham Too Big A Task For The Fly? – Weekend Review
Champion Hurdle - Cheltenham
Trainer, Willie Mullins, strengthened Cheltenham 2015 prospects even further last Sunday courtesy of two Grade 1 victories in Un De Sceaux and the mighty, Hurricane Fly.
It was the latter who stole all the headlines, though, landing a fifth Irish Champion Hurdle, while in the process taking his record at Leopardstown to 10-10 Having loomed up to deal with Jezki in the home straight, the battle everyone was expecting never took place with Jezki losing ground following a bad mistake at the last, allowing “The Fly” to power home from Arctic Fire.
This victory for “The Fly” saw his Champion Hurdle odds contact into 8/1, but punters will be aware that the ground is likely to ride faster at Cheltenham, while regular pilot, Ruby Walsh, may partner the current evens favourite, Faugheen.
Jezki meanwhile, saw his odds drift slightly to 5/1, but unlike “The Fly”, more will be expected on better ground at Cheltenham, though what of Arctic Fire, who has now been in the mix the last twice behind Hurricane Fly, and showed when runner-up at Cheltenham last March he handles the conditions. At 20/1 Arctic Fire could yet be the each-way value.
Mullins’ grip on the Arkle Chase took a firmer grip following a stunning round of jumping from Un De Sceaux earlier on the Leopardstown card, and as suggested here last week, odds of 5/2 for the Arkle have now all gone, and he is now “banker” material at evens.
There was even more success for Mullins when his Outlander impressed in landing the Grade 2 novice over 2m4f – a victory which saw him cut into 10/1 for Cheltenham’s Neptune, with 20/1 for the Supreme. A more patient ride back in trip worked the oracle here, and with the yard’s, Boston Bob, winning this exact same race in 2012 before finishing runner-up at Cheltenham, Outlander looks to have good prospects in March.
Further festival clues were aplenty at Cheltenham itself on Saturday, the last meeting at the venue before the big one in six weeks’ time.
One such runner whose price was trimmed was Nicky Henderson’s, Peace And Co, who won the Grade 2 Triumph Hurdle Trial – in the process taking his hurdles record to 3-3. His position at the head of the Triumph market has now been cut a touch into 9/4, and the Triumph Trial/Triumph Hurdle double can be achieved, as Katchit showed in 2007.
Many Clouds won a Grade 2 chase later in the card, and would be an interesting 8/1 shot for the Gold Cup if the ground came up soft, as the likes of Silviniaco Conti’s stamina would be tested in the mud.
In the Grade 2 Cleeve Hurdle (trial for the World Hurdle), Saphir Du Rheu showed guts to battle past Reve De Sivola. With three winners of this trial going on the land the World Hurdle (two others were placed), Saphir Du Rheu looks a solid each-way prospect at 6/1.