Faugheen To Score Champion Hurdle Double
The big race on day one of the 2016 Cheltenham Festival is the Champion Hurdle – a race where we are already offering Non Runner Cash Back.
Faugheen The Hurdling Machine
On the subject of cash, there has already been a bundle for Willie Mullins’ hurdling machine Faugheen, who is currently around the 1/3 mark. Such odds have been earned courtesy of two spectacular wins the last twice at Kempton and Leopardstown, which buried the memory of his shock defeat in November.
Faugheen now heads back to defend his crown on the back of a career best at Leopardstown, and his supporters will be hoping he can follow in the footsteps of Istabraq in 1999 and Hardy Eustace in 2005, who both returned to win the title 12 months later.
The question most investors face is whether odds of 1/3 offer any value, in other words a 33% profit upon stakes invested, and to some that may appeal. However, there will be plenty of others opting for an each-way alternative, with the likes of Arctic Fire chalked up at 8/1.
Faugheen’s stablemate was beaten by the former to the tune of 1l into second in this race 12 months ago, before being beaten 8l and 15l by the same rival on their next two meetings. Should the form repeat itself, then it’s hard to see Arctic Fire beating Faugheen, but a place isn’t out of the question.
Canyon To Strike Gold?
One who does know how to beat Faugheen is another of his stablemates Nichols Canyon, who beat the current champ 1/2l back in November. It’s possible Faugheen needed the outing that day, and reversed the form by 28l when they met last month.
Nichols Canyon wasn’t at his best that day, though, and he’ll be fresher for the festival, where he was third in the Neptune last season.
There isn’t much to choose between Nichols Canyon and Identity Thief on their 1-2 in the Ryanair Hurdle over Christmas where the former triumphed by 2l, though Identity Thief is still open to improvement.
Brits To Bounce Back?
As for the Brits’ chance of making it a fifth success in the race during the last nine years, then Philip Hobbs has a contender in his 7yo War Sound, who has been backed from 66/1 into 33/1. Absent since winning a Grade 3 handicap at Haydock in May (2m, good to soft), he has endured an interrupted season, but recent money suggests he could be on the way back.
Nicky Henderson will also be looking to get My Tent Or Yours back to his best following a near two-year absence. Runner-up in his two previous festivals, including in this race two years ago, it will be interesting to see if his odds of 20/1 come in for support.
Nigel Twiston-Davies’ The New One also has experience of this race having finished third in 2014, before coming in 8l behind Faugheen when fifth 12 months ago. His winning form this term suggests he’ll be thereabouts at each-way odds of 20/1.
While there are plenty of fancy each-way prices on show, all clues point to Faugheen landing this for a second time, and he could be one of the Mullins’ favourites to make up a stable accumulator across the four days.
*Prices correct at time of publication.