Horse Racing – Hurricane Fly File Photo

Racing Post Champion Hurdle 2014 – Runners & Odds

Having been beaten on two occasions by Hurricane Fly (Evens) this winter, Jezki (4/5) turned the tables in no uncertain fashion in landing the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham last month.

The question for punters come Friday, however, is: who will come out on top when the two foes clash once more?

Based on current odds, it could well be the aforementioned duo who fight out the finish, with Jezki backed into the 4/5 favourite, and Hurricane Fly on Evens.

Around 5l separated the duo at Cheltenham, where Jezki reacted well to the fitting of a first-time hood, and if they have the same effect then it is easy to see why backers have been keen to get their money on him. As a winner of the Champion Novice Hurdle over this C&D at this meeting a year ago, Jezki will handle conditions; it is just a case of whether the hood sparks him into life once more.

If the hood fails to work as it did last month, then Hurricane Fly could gain revenge – after all, this legendary 10yo did bounce back from defeat at the 2012 Cheltenham Festival to win this very race next time out.

Willie Mullins stated after his loss at Cheltenham that he was in good form going into the race and retained his enthusiasm, and having won this race for the last three years, it’s possible he could bounce back to his very best at a venue he knows well.

Jessica Harrington’s Steps To Freedom (50/1) poses no threat and can only be turning up for the prize money.

The trends of this race also suggest that the first two in the market could have the final say on Friday, as 14 of the last 15 winners returned 6/1 or shorter – eight of whom made the top three of the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham.

If the ground continues to stay no worse than yielding, then the first two should be in for another exciting tussle, and one in which Hurricane Fly may follow in Sizing Europe’s footsteps (who won here earlier in the week) in turning back the clock for one last hurrah.

Here are the full trends covering the last 15 winners…

14 of the 15 winners raced in the past two months – eight made the top three of the Champion Hurdle, while five arrived via Aintree. Seven also made the top three of the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown in January.
14 won a Grade 1 hurdle.
14 won at Punchestown.
14 returned 6/1 or shorter.
13 made the top three last time.
12 were 5-7yo’s.
Willie Mullins trained five winners.