Sat at the top of Ladbrokes’ ante-post market for the Champion Hurdle at next year’s Cheltenham Festival is Willie Mullins’ superstar seven-year-old Faugheen.
At 6/4 for a second consecutive victory in the two-mile event, there isn’t a rival that can touch the Rich Ricci-owned speedster in Ladbrokes’ eyes.
If, as the betting suggests, Faugheen takes the laurels on Tuesday’s main event, it will be a fourth consecutive success for the Irish in the race and the fifth victory in six renewals.
Paul Nicholls’ Rock On Ruby briefly broke the Emerald Isle’s grip on the race in 2012 and, as 2016 approaches, it looks like the Ditcheat handler’s great rival, Nicky Henderson, is mounting the biggest British challenge.
The Seven Barrows trainer has five early entries listed for the Champion Hurdle – the same number as Mullins – but only three are deemed worthy of an ante-post price thus far.
Henderson will be looking to win the race for the first time since Binocular in 2010. Here’s how his current hopes stack up:
Heading a Henderson one-two-three in the Festival’s Triumph Hurdle last year, Peace and Co is yet to emerge this season, but leads the Champion Hurdle betting for his trainer.
The four-year-old is unbeaten in four starts and in two runs at Cheltenham, but is yet to run against Faugheen.
Laid off through injury for the last eight months, My Tent Or Yours is set for a long-awaited reappearance over Christmas and could avoid an early encounter with Faugheen by heading to Leopardstown instead of Kempton over the festive period.
His last Grade One appearance saw him finish runner up to Jezki in the Champion Hurdle two years ago and Henderson is stepping up his work as he nears a return to action.
A horse of real class, My Tent Or Yours has never finished out of the frame in eight Class Ones.
Unlike his two stablemates, Top Notch has already racked up two runs this season.
He opened his campaign by finishing second to Irving over two miles at Haydock in November, then reversed that result in Newcastle’s Fighting Fifth a week later but still ended up behind Identity Thief.
Considering he followed Peace and Co home in the Triumph Hurdle last season, Henderson must have higher hopes for others in the race.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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