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Pretenders to Hurricane Fly’s hurdle crown will need to find more

| 22.01.2014

Hurricane Fly headlines a sextet of potential contenders for the upcoming renewal of the Irish Champion Hurdle and it’s difficult to see past another success for the 4/7 jolly.

Onlookers are running out of superlatives to describe the imperious ten-year-old ahead of his latest outing having vanquished three of his re-opposing foes in the Ryanair Hurdle during the Christmas period.

That two-and-a-half length score in front of Jezki, Our Conor and Captain Cee Bee showed there were no signs of his powers waning with jockey Ruby Walsh steering his mount clear of the chasing pack at Leopardstown.

And now the son of Montjeu has the chance to emulate the great Istabraq and secure a fourth successive Champion Hurdle win in Ireland.

Victory here would also further cement Hurricane Fly’s credentials for Cheltenham’s showpiece with the current 3/1 on offer about a successful defence of his Champion Hurdle crown likely to be cut accordingly.

But while Mullins’ superstar is difficult to oppose there are still rumblings of optimism emanating from rival camps that give reason to believe he can be beaten.

Jezki’s trainer Jessica Harrington has been bullish about her charge’s chances of upsetting the form book following a game attempt at reeling in Hurricane Fly on their last outing.

Harrington told the Racing Post: “I have been delighted with him since Christmas. Maybe he was a bit unlucky there, but he ran a very good race and it was the first time he had come up against that class of horse.”

There’s no doubt the six-year-old stays well – his Hatton’s Grace Hurdle win over 2m4f shows that – but whether he can continue to improve and match the fluidity and pace of the market leader remains a question mark.

At 3/1 there’s no doubt Jezki is worth taking on though with 7/2 shot Our Conor another entrant attracting attention.

The five-year-old’s eye-catching 15-length Triumph Hurdle victory at last year’s Cheltenham Festival made plenty of headlines.

And while he’s yet to prove himself in such illustrious company his latest match-up with Hurricane Fly should see the Dessie Hughes-trained talent strip fitter for the experience.

Meanwhile, exciting prospect Annie Power looks set to swerve this contest and instead head to Doncaster for a mouth-watering Mares’ Hurdle with Fighting Fifth Hurdle runner-up Cockney Sparrow another entrant.

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

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William Geldart

William contributed to a number of online football blogs before finally finding his pot of gold at the end of the rainbow alongside the rest of the Ladbrokes News team. Now indulging passions for football, horse racing, greyhounds, boxing and political betting. Supports Wycombe Wanderers and can be spotted at various lower league and non-league grounds across the country.