The New One joins Hurricane Fly as Champion Hurdle favourite

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The runners were confirmed for the Cheltenham Festival’s first Champion race with nine horses declared in the final entries for Tuesday’s Champion Hurdle.

Annie Power, Thousand Stars and Un De Sceaux were all scratched from the lineup as expected, leaving Willie Mullins’ Hurricane Fly battling it out with Nigel Twiston-Davies’ The New One for favouritism.

The pair sit at the head of the betting at 5/2 but look to have a number of competitors with Our Conor, My Tent Or Yours and Jezki all taking their place in what stands to be a thrilling battle.

Nicky Henderson’s My Tent Or Yours recovered well enough from a puncture to the sole to take his place in the race, while Dessie Hughes’ Our Conor is already well settled in the Pretbury Park stables.

Repeating the trick that saw the 10/3-shot win the Triumph Hurdle last year, Hughes confirmed the gelding was in good shape ahead of his Irish Champion Hurdle rematch with The Fly.

“He went over on Thursday and all is good with him,” said Hughes of the five-year-old.

“He thrived when he got there last year before winning the Triumph, so we decided to send him over again well in advance of his target.”

Hurricane Fly is bidding to be the first horse since Hardy Eustace in 2005 to win consecutive Champion Hurdles, but doesn’t demand outright favouritism despite nine consecutive wins prior to the race.

Instead The New One joins him with the favourites tag having been beaten by My Tent Or Yours in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton over Christmas.

Henderson’s Kempton victor, who is 4/1 to win, will surely stand a good chance of upsetting the apple cart, with the trainer returning form of 121P121111561P9 from his last 15 runners.

Melodic Rendezvous, Ptit Zig, Grumeti and Captain Cee Bee complete the Champion Hurdle lineup.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.