Nick gives his expert tips on the 2013 Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
Paddy Power are refunding all losing bets on the Champion Hurdle if Hurricane Fly wins the race (max £100). HURRICANE FLY
has divided opinion in the build-up to the Champion Hurdle but the Irish raider can silence his critics with a victory in Tuesday’s feature.
The French import will be looking to become the first horse to regain the Champion Hurdle crown since Comedy of Errors in 1975 but hurdlers of such class are few and far between and a comprehensive success at Prestbury Park could see Hurricane Fly stake a claim to being Ireland’s best ever hurdler.
He is certainly the best of his generation and sixteen successes, including fourteen Grade Ones, in nineteen starts is a record that will install fear into those taking him on Tuesday afternoon. His latest victory came through a squall of snow in the Irish Champion Hurdle and the handicapper saw it as being one of the best of his illustrious career.
Supporters of the likes of Zarkandar (4/1, Blue Square
), Grandouet (9/1, Boylesports
) and Rock On Ruby (9/2, Boylesports
) will be hoping that it’s the same Hurricane as last year that turns up at Cheltenham but Mullins’ horse wasn’t right that day and he was lacking the verve and touch of class that has made him such a frightening proposition in recent years.
Racing experts continue to question whether a strongly run two miles around Cheltenham plays to the strengths of the son of Montjeu, but with one Champion Hurdle victory already to his name, it’d be ridiculous to question his ability to act at the track. The fact that he was held up too far off a steadily run race twelve months ago was another reason he couldn’t get to Rock On Ruby and you can be sure that Walsh will not make the same mistake again.
Indeed, this year’s race looks to have cut up somewhat and with just nine rivals set to go to post for the Grade One and with no front-runner in the pack; the race could be set up for Hurricane Fly. A slowly run contest on soft ground would be a huge bonus for his backers, but you get the feeling that he could have too much in his locker however the race unfolds at Cheltenham.
Zarkandar continues to be well supported for Paul Nicholls, while Nicky Henderson’s duo of Grandouet and Binocular (10/1,Boylesports
) will be hoping that the ground isn’t too testing on day one of the meeting.
Nick Wilby’s selection
– Hurricane Fly
(NAP) (9/4, bet365