Cheltenham: Hurricane Fly remains the best in Champion Hurdle if fit

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After winning the Champions Hurdle last season, many punters were expecting Hurricane Fly to go on to numerous successes at the Cheltenham Festival, but his fragile nature is again threatening his participation in March.

However, with Ladbrokes offering a refunded stake for all non runners in the Champion Hurdle odds, taking the 2/1 may be a wise strategy.

Course form

Hurricane Fly has spent the majority of his career mopping up the sprint hurdle events in Ireland and his only previous trip to England was when landing the Champion Hurdle last year at Cheltenham.

His form in general is mightily impressive with just one defeat in three years and his chances of a repeat festival victory are sure to receive a boost if trainer Willie Mullins can get a preparation run into him before Cheltenham, which looks likely to happen in the BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle on January 29th.

Making a seasonal reappearance in a race of the calibre of a Champions Hurdle is not ideal, so even he misses his engagement at Leopardstown, he will benefit from some time on the gallops alongside fellow smart performers Quevega and Thousand Stars to get him into race shape.

Distance

Not only is Hurricane Fly prolific over 2m, with the speed and quality of jumping to match his rivals, he also has the stamina to stay further.

Hurricane Fly is a winner over 2m4f, which may be significant given the severity of the Cheltenham hill after the final hurdle and the fact that they could be sent off at a lightning pace.

Other

Although Zarkandar is expected to be in the Cheltenham betting for the Champion Hurdle from the Paul Nicholls yard, Ruby Walsh is likely to be allowed to ride Hurricane Fly.

Walsh has won all five starts on board the horse.

Meanwhile, nine previous Grade One victories means the horse should settle on the big stage among all of the Cheltenham noise and he is equally adept on any surface, so he will not be hindered by firm or soft conditions.

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Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.