Stan James Champion Hurdle
- 3.30 p.m.
- 2m 110 y
- The best hurdles horses in training go for this one
- Usually slightly younger horses because it is only 2m and appeals to the younger ones with a quick turn of foot
- Faugheen won easily last year but has picked up an injury and is out of the race this year
The injuries to Faugheen and Arctic Fire from Willie Mullins’ stable have blown this one wide open. Annie Power, also a Mullins horse, has been supplemented to enter the race – this means that her owners have paid a significant sum of money so that she can run in the race having not initially been entered. She now heads the market at around 2/1 but I think that is way too short to represent value and is probably the most likely of the Mullins/Walsh hot pot favourites to lose on Tuesday.
If we cast our minds back a few weeks ago Annie Power hadn’t been seen on a racecourse since she followed up her fall in the Mares Hurdle last year (the thought of that disaster still sends shivers down the spine by the way) with a win over in Ireland. She had a setback in her preparation, so much so that there were doubts whether she would be involved at all. We were told that the Mares Hurdle was the most likely race for her because the World Hurdle would be too tough given her disrupted preparation.
Fast forward a few weeks, she has had a run against completely inferior horses that told us very little, two of her stablemates have withdrawn through injury and all of a sudden she is a good thing for the Champion Hurdle? I just can’t have that. If her price was 6/1 I’d tell you that stranger things have happened and she might be worth an each way punt but given the disrupted preparation and the suspicion that two miles is a bit short I am happy to overlook her.
Camping Ground, Hargam, Lil Rockerfeller, Peace and Co, Sign of a Victory and Top Notch aren’t good enough or don’t have conditions that will suit them (or both) and I think we can leave them out of the reckoning.
Identity Thief is undoubtedly a challenger – he has been impressive this season, most notably winning the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle and has been kept fresh for the Festival – but he did lose to Nichols Canyon last time out and he has been beaten in the past by less impressive horses so I’m not sure he is the answer either.
My Tent or Yours has been missing for almost as long as Shergar so despite being a classy animal a couple of years ago there is nothing to suggest that he will be able to replicate his old form now that he is 9 years old and hasn’t run for nearly two years.
SEMPRE MEDICI is another who is probably not good enough but I think he might represent some each way value at 25/1 if you are looking for a big priced alternative. I tipped him up last week as a potential value horse.
The other one that I tipped up as an antepost value bet was NICHOLS CANYON and I remain keen on him. Bizarelly, the two horses ahead of him in the market have defected since then but his price hasn’t come in much at all. You can still get an each way price about him (11/2 at the time of writing) and that seems like the sensible value selection. He remains the only horse ever to have beaten Faugheen and although he subsequently was poor at Leopardstown in January he has now had plenty of time to get over the race and crucially doesn’t have Faugheen to worry about this time.
The main danger as I see it is The New One who has been very consistent for the past 3 years and should probably finish in the top three if he runs his usual sort of race but if Nichols Canyon runs to form he should have that little bit extra.
- Already advised – Nichols Canyon – 2pts each way at 13/2
- Already advised – Sempre Medici – 0.5pts each way at 28/1
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