The National Hunt stars are slowly turning out, and the jumps season is beginning to get into full swing, so what better than a little look at this season's Champion Hurdle
The average Timeform rating of a Champion Hurdle winner in last 10 years is 165. There are now seven active two-milers rated 165 or higher, so this gives you an idea of how competitive this seasons race is going to be.
Hurricane Fly regained his title last season after winning the race in 2011, but finishing behind winner Rock on Ruby the season after. Currently second favourite, you'd be a fool not to bet this champion to win the 2014 Champion Hurdle at 5/1 with Paddy Power – the horse has only been beaten once in 14 runs. Trainer Willie Mullins has been quoted to say that the nine year old came back as big as an elephant, and is stronger than ever. There has however only been three winners over the age of eight in the last 58 years. Hurricane Fly is due to clash with Our Conor at Punchestown in the Morgiana hurdle on November 11th, and what a treat that will be.
Our Conor (5/1 Ladbrokes), started his comeback in a flat race at Naas on Sunday, finishing a creditable fourth. Making his comeback after winning last season’s Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham, the Barry Connell owned four year old ran his first race for new owner and new pilot Danny Mullins.
Trainer Dessie Hughes said that he was delighted with the horse's run as he was only 90% fit.
After finishing behind The New One at Kempton on Sunday trainer Harry Fry announced that stable star Rock on Ruby (25/1 William Hill), could be in need of a wind operation and so we have to discount him from our Champion Hurdle betting tips. Winner of the Champion Hurdle in 2012 and runner up to Hurricane Fly last season, the eight year old was left outpaced behind The New One. With his season currently on hold until trainer Harry Fry is happy with his stable star, we're left awaiting his comeback.
Current favourite The New One (4/1 with William Hill) underlined his claims to be the best two mile hurdler in the UK at Kempton on Sunday. Jockey Sam Twiston-Davies heavily eased the five year old towards the finish showing the horse has the talent to go far this season. He will be aimed at the International Hurdle at Cheltenham next before making a bid to win at the Cheltenham Festival 2014.
JP McManus as ever leaves AP McCoy with the difficult decision of choosing between old timer Binocular, new purchase Jezki and growing favourite My Tent or Yours. Finishing second to Champagne fever in last season’s Supreme Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, My Tent or Yours (6/1 Ladbrokes) could be the one to watch leading up to the race. As long as nothing happens, I imagine this will be the champs choice – if that is the case you can be sure that this horse will have everything ticked before any race. We're still awaiting his season reappearance, and can therefore get decent odds on the six year old. His odds will almost definitely shorten when Nicky Henderson decides where his reappearance run will be.
Jezki (10/1 with Boylesports) was third in the Supreme Novices at last season’s Festival in his first run for owner JP McManus, and overturned the result in Punchestown the following month when winning the Champion Novice Hurdle, with festival winner Ted Veale in second and Champagne Fever in third. Champagne Fever holds an entry for the race, but ante post betting movement suggests he is more than likely heading to the Arkle and we will look at our ante-post tips for the Arkle later.
Grandouet (20/1 Sky Bet), is the other Nicky Henderson entry. A faller in the race last year, the six year old was travelling well under Barry Geraghty when he was a casualty. A frustrating sort and some people believe that the horse has under achieved, but I think he's just been unlucky in his races. If on top form he could feature as an each-way prediction for Cheltenham 2014.
Zarkandar (20/1 Sky Bet), has finished mid-field in the last two Champion Hurdles but on both occasions has finished well up the hill. In his last race in Aintree back in April, he pipped none other than The New One to the post, so on that form things can only be promising. He is another one who hasn't made his seasonal reappearance, and we therefore must wait and see what the newly formed Nicholls and Jacob team have to show us. He is expected to return at Ascot in November.
Champion Hurdle 2014 Ante Post Betting Tips
Hurricane Fly 5/1 with Paddy Power – WIN
My Tent or Yours 6/1 with Ladbrokes – EW
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