Fatal Darlan fall makes Hurricane Fly clear Champion Hurdle favourite

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The Champion Hurdle was well on track to be the highlight of the Cheltenham Festival, but some of the gloss has been taken off by the fatal fall of Darlan in the 32 Red Hurdle at Doncaster.

Coming to the last, Tony McCoy moved the horse upsides Rock On Ruby and seemed certain to land the spoils, until a heavy fall resulted in a life-threatening injury.

Given the ease at which he appeared to be travelling, there is the strong likelihood that the performance would have witnessed Darlan being made strong favourite for the Champion Hurdle.

But now it is Hurricane Fly that finds himself in this position, with the Irish raider now just 7/4 to regain the title that he won in 2011.

Meanwhile, Ladbrokes are offering the top price on Rock On Ruby repeating his victory of last year at 7/1 and it should be said that he was in no way beaten jumping the last alongside Darlan at Doncaster.

Connections also feel that Rock On Ruby will come on for the run.

Another Ladbrokes top price comes for Zarkandar, who has battling qualities that have to be admired and he must certainly now look a relatively safe each-way selection at 6/1.

As for Nicky Henderson, all of his Champion Hurdle hopes pretty much lie with Grandouet, who finished a solid second to Zarkandar earlier in the season when conceding weight and having his first racecourse appearance in a year.

Grandouet can be backed at 5/1 for Champion Hurdle glory.

As for McCoy, it is not the first time that he has had bad luck relating to a big fancy at the Cheltenham Festival, whether it be prior the Festival or in an actual race.

He is almost certain to renew acquaintances with old friend Binocular now and he is 10/1 to win the Champion Hurdle.

All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date

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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.