Ladbrokes News vs Pricewise: Irving looks massive in Champion Hurdle

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As the Cheltenham Festival approaches its two-months-to-go marker, the antepost markets for the plethora of top class races are starting to get a shake up, with punters up and down the country searching for that forgotten big price chance.

Many will be following the choices of one man, and for good reason, for he is seen as a God in some betting circles.

That man is none other than the Racing Post’s Tom Segal, AKA Pricewise.

But here at Ladbrokes News we’re up for a challenge and we want to take him on, pitting our wits against him each week to deliver our thoughts on some of the biggest prizes in jumps racing.

First up is the Champion Hurdle, and while Pricewise has gone for Arctic Fire at 33/1 we are going for a long shot ourselves.

Prior to finishing 1 3/4l behind Hurricane Fly at Leopardstown in the Ryanair Hurdle at Christmas, Willie Mullins’ charge was a further 5l behind Irving in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle.

In second in that race was Aurore D’Estruval who went on to continue her upgrade by taking a Listed prize at Sandown at the weekend.

And despite his triumph over Tom Segal’s pick, Paul Nicholls’ charge stands out at a whopping 50/1.

At first glance at his form, with recent figures of 19F1P it is perhaps easy to see why.

But delving deeper gives us hope, and provides us with a juicy price to get stuck into, a standout in the industry at present.

Most recently he was pulled up behind the brilliant Faugheen in the Christmas Hurdle, but with an infection being found in his hoof the following morning it is certainly advisable to right that run off, although getting near to ‘The Machine’ may have been a tough ask anyhow.

Purple Bay was runner up that time at Kempton, and was also the main benefactor when the ‘F’ in Irving’s form occurred.

Challenging looking allover the winner, Sam Twiston-Davies’ mount took a crashing fall allowing John Ferguson’s six.-year-old to land the spoils.

Going back to his last visit to Cheltenham, such was the market support behind the horse that he was sent off joint-favourite alongside eventual winner Vautour for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.

He never threatened, though when connections announced he “returned coughing and with his blood not being right”, you can again take that losing distance with a pinch of salt.

In between these disappointing runs, the seven-year-old has put in some assured performances, the aforementioned Fighting Fifth victory, and runaway wins in the Dovecote and Kennel Gate as a novice last season.

Yes, his record might be patchy, but with little value market in the top three, it could pay to have a stab at one at a bigger price.

He has it all to do to break up that trio of Faugheen, The New One and Jezki, but with the current market likely to cut up, he should not be a 50/1 shot.

Pricewise’s pick: Arctic Fire – 33/1 – 1pt each-way

Ladbrokes News’ pick: Irving – 50/1 – 1pt each-way

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

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Ben Stones

Ladbrokes News’ equine expert, Ben likes nothing more than studying the form to pick out a winner or two for our readers. A Journalism and Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester, Ben has previously written for a number of football and racing blogs and websites, as well as contributing to the sports pages of his home-town newspaper.