With Ladbrokes going money back across all channels if Champion Hurdle co-favourite and two-time winner, Hurricane Fly, comes first or second in Cheltenham Festival Tuesday’s big race, a bet on fellow market leader The New One at 5/2 looks the way to play in the 2m event.
‘The Fly’ – who comes into this race as defending champion and also took the prize in 2011 – can also be backed at 5/2 after seeing off all comers in four races since wresting his Cheltenham crown from Rock On Ruby’s grasp 12 months ago.
Willie Mullins believes his stable star is ‘in really good form’ and ‘still improving’, and the County Carlow handler’s record around Prestbury Park in recent campaigns will ensure there’ll be plenty of on-course support for the 10-year-old when the big day arrives.
However, Hurricane Fly would become the first horse over the age of nine to win the race since the mighty Sea Pigeon’s second victory in 1981, and with Ladbrokes offering such a generous concession if the Montjeu gelding makes the top two, Nigel Twiston-Davies’ challenger looks the pick for the home team taking on the Irish raiders.
After winning last year’s Neptune Novices’ Hurdle by four lengths from Rule The World, The New One failed to complete a Cheltenham/Aintree double when touched off by Zarkander a month later on Merseyside, but he emphatically reversed that form when beating Paul Nicholls’ inmate by six lengths around the Gloucestershire track in December.
Favourite backers were a bit fed up with Twiston-Davies’ six-year-old when My Tent Or Yours got the better of The New One and trainer’s son Sam – who’s been on board for all 13 of the horse’s races under rules – by half a length at Kempton over Christmas.
My Tent Or Yours has to come into Champion Hurdle consideration at 7/2 on that form, but Twiston-Davies senior becalmed punters following the run when stating that a pacemaker will be employed at the festival to ensure a decent clip for his inmate.
Mullins and ‘The Fly’ may have claimed the race for the Emerald Isle in two of the past three seasons, but four of the last six Champion Hurdle winners have been British trained and after saddling Khyber Kim to a credible second-place finish in the race four years ago, this may well be Twiston-Davies’ and The New One’s moment.
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