Hurricane Fly remains the favourite at 5/1 to win the Champion Hurdle, but he will need to come on a reasonable amount from his success in the Morgiana Hurdle in Ireland if he wants to reclaim his Cheltenham Festival crown.
Only a fall at the final flight at Punchestown by Go Native confirmed Hurricane Fly’s success and it was hardly the calibre of performance which suggested that he would be the one to beat at Cheltenham.
Also going against him is that not since Comedy of Errors in 1975 has a horse regained a Champion Hurdle and Hurricane Fly was only third back in March when well beaten by Rock On Ruby.
However, trainer Willie Mullins is convinced that the horse was below his best last season, but the early signs of this season are that things are going to plan.
Meanwhile, it is worth noting that the Morgiana Hurdle was his seasonal reappearance, with opposition Go Native and Captain Cee Bee both already having a run this campaign, indicating they were more race-fit.
Furthermore, Go Native had the race more run to suit as he was able to stalk the leader before being unleashed for an effort with two hurdles remaining.
This is a formula that Hurricane Fly also prefers to follow, but he was forced to make his own pace at Punchestown and so the victory deserves some added credit.
There is certainly no shortage of ante-post challengers for Hurricane Fly and this renewal of the Champion Hurdle threatens to hog the Cheltenham limelight.
Aside from Rock On Ruby, Paul Nicholls may also saddle Zarkandar, while Nicky Henderson looks mob handed with Grandouet, Binocular and Darlan, while Oscar Whisky could run.
Grandouet is of particular interest, having missed the latter part of last season injured when big things were expected of him.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.