Full trends preview and Champion Hurdle betting tips for the championship race on day 1 of the Cheltenham Festival 2014 at 3.20pm
One of the major races of the Cheltenham Festival is the Stan James Champion Hurdle which is the championship race for 2 mile hurdlers. This year’s renewal is shaping up to be a great race as defending champion Hurricane Fly faces a completely new test up against last year’s best novices in Jezki, The New One, My Tent Or Yours and Our Conor. Here are the all important trends for the race.
9 out of the last 10 winners were aged between 6 and 8.
9 out of the last 10 winners were French or Irish Bred.
9 out of the last 10 winners had raced at the Festival the previous year.
9 out of the last 10 winners had had a prep run after 23rd January.
8 out of the last 10 winners had won a Grade 1 over 2m previously.
7 out of the last 10 winners had won last time out.
7 out of the last 10 winners had lost a race that season.
6 out of the last 10 winners were sent off 9/1 or greater.
Willie Mullins is quickly becoming the best trainer of National Hunt horses across GB & Ireland and he sends over the 19 times Grade 1 winner HURRICANE FLY (3/1 bet365). As the defending champion there is a lot of expectation on the Fly and he has so far duly delivered coming to the Festival undefeated this year. The trends state that he has a good chance but he must overcome the age trends as a 10 year old hasn’t won since 1980. Thankfully, if a horse is ever going to break such a statistic then Hurricane Fly has a great chance and that's why he is our Champion Hurdle 2014 betting tip. His hurdling ability and Cheltenham experience are just a few of the many positives that surround this horse and he should go close.
The New One (11/4 William Hill) is the current maker favourite and represents Nigel Twiston Davies’ first realistic chance of winning a championship race since Imperial Commander’s Gold Cup victory. A winner at the Festival in the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle last year, this horse has impressed no end crushing previous winner of this race Rock on Ruby before being held by half a length behind My Tent Or Yours at Kempton. The trends say the horse has a chance but he hasn’t had a prep run this season and hasn’t yet won a Grade 1 over 2m as of yet. Despite his impressive turn of foot, he may well lack the speed for a 2m championship race.
The horse that beat The New One at Kempton, My Tent Or Yours (4/1 Betfred) has done nothing wrong this season winning each start and definitely has the speed to win a Champion Hurdle. There is a question mark hanging over the horse with regards to an injury which is quite worrying but considering latest trainer reports that doesn’t look to be too much of a concern. The trends certainly favour this horse and he could well benefit from the inclusion of Captain Cee Bee (300/1 BetVictor) who will most likely make the running.
Owner JP McManus also has a third runner entered – Jezki (10/1 Ladbrokes). This horse was impressive when he took apart the Irish novice division but as of yet, hasn’t managed to trouble Hurricane Fly in two attempts this season. The trends state Jezki also has claims, but on current form the horse should be battling it out for a place.
Grumeti (100/1 Ladbrokes) has won a Grade 1 over the smaller objects in the past but on current form will have to run out of his skin to trouble the judge here. Both Melodic Rendezvous and Ptit Zig look opposable on a line through My Tent Or Yours’ 7 length beating of Melodic Rendezvouz at Newcastle.
Our Conor (9/2 Stan James) is the final runner and certainly should not be overlooked. On previous form this horse has every chance to run a big race. His second place finish to Hurricane Fly on their latest start, coupled with his 15 length romp in the Triumph Hurdle last year make him a very exciting entrant. The major negative around this horse is his age, 5yo’s do not have a good record in the race with only three 5yo’s winning since 1970.
In conclusion, the trends seem to suggest that although each of the major contenders has a realistic chance of victory, each also has certain negatives to overcome. Whilst Hurricane Fly has the age trend to overcome, The New One hasn’t won a Grade 1 over 2m, My Tent Or Yours has has an interrupted perpetration with a minor injury and both Jezki and Our Conor need to reverse form with Hurricane Fly. With all this taken into account, my Champion Hurdle 2014 betting tip is with the reigning champion HURRICANE FLY. The horse is just pure class and should be able to hold these off his challengers in what promises to be a vintage renewal. The New One may well lack the tactical speed for a truly run Champion Hurdle, My Tent Or Yours looks vulnerable to The New One overturning their Christmas Hurdle form and it may be too much to expect either Our Conor or Jezki to reverse the form with Hurricane Fly. Certainly this is a tricky race to decipher but in the end on experience, form and ability Hurricane Fly is the one to be on.
HURRICANE FLY (WIN) (3/1 bet365)
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