Champion Hurdle Ante-Post Outlook

Cheltenham Festival

Horse Racing
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Published: 07/01/2012

Hurricane Fly is a decisive yet precarious ante-post favourite for the 2012 renewal of the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Willie Mullinsís charge is unequivocally in a hurdling class of his own as demonstrated when he hacked up the Cheltenham hill in 2011 to storm to Champion Hurdle glory.

But the seven year-old has not been without his fair share of injury scares and worries and as always his ante-post odds carry a certain degree of trepidation.

Needless to say, with a run hypothetically guaranteed, the 9/4 on offer for the Hurricane is an absolute giveaway.

Essentially, it is the sheer doubt over the horseís fitness which is inflating his ante post price and with a run guaranteed he would be nearer 5/4.

Willie Mullins will be hoping to get his star back in action as soon as possible as there are plenty of other top notch horses who will be improving to close the gap on him in time for the Cheltenham Festival.

One of those is Nicky Hendersonís Grandouet who was impeccable when sluicing through his rivals to land the Bula Hurdle in December.

The four year-old looks to have bags of improvement in him and at 7/1 he could be the main weapon for punters seeking to oppose the favourite.

Grandouet was second in the 2011 Triumph Hurdle and his conqueror Zarkandar is available at 10/1 for a Champion Hurdle tilt, but Paul Nicholls has yet to run his super juvenile so far this season.

It is another of Paul Nichollsís horses who is creating big rumours three months ahead of the race however in the shape of Big Bucks.

There is no price quoted for the triple World Hurdle champion for the race as yet but many people are speculating that the eight year-old could step down to two miles to take on the speed horses and potentially cement his status as one of the best horses in national hunt history.

The argument is that a fourth World Hurdle would do little to further enhance Big Bucks reputation and racing enthusiasts would like to see him in a different sphere which could well suit him due to his powerful turn of foot and slick hurdling.

Nicholls has already pushed the boat out by taking Champion Chaser Master Minded down the Cheltenham Gold Cup route and he may just create an equally exciting ripple by pitching Big Bucks into what looks set to be an incredibly hot and fast Champion Hurdle.

Definitely a case of watch this space then for racing lovers and ante-post backers, who also have the likes of Spirit Son, Unaccompanied and former champion Binocular to put into the equation before the tapes go up on March 12.


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