Have flutter on Butterfly

LIKE-A-BUTTERFLY, the only mare in the race, gets the vote to beat sixteen male rivals in a wide open Smurfit Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham this afternoon.

The ground is obviously a big factor with the daughter of Montelimar and certainly the assumption has to be it won’t ride anywhere near as soft as she would like.

The probability, however, is that the surface will tend towards the soft side of good and, at worst, Like-A-Butterfly looks set to run a big race.

The nine-year-old produced a wonderful Champion trial in the Irish equivalent, the AIG Europe Champion Hurdle, at Leopardstown towards the end of January.

Even if that contest took place over a trip - two miles - well short of the remarkable Limestone Lad’s best, it was still an outstanding display on the part of Christy Roche’s charge to beat him.

She was making a belated seasonal debut against a battle-hardened warrior at the peak of his powers.

Limestone Lad put it up to her from the start, but she wasn’t found wanting when the war began to rage in the straight.

After a stirring tussle, Like-A-Butterfly was a head in front at the line.

That augurs well for her prospects up the feared Cheltenham hill and, encouragingly, Roche says he is much happier with her now than he was a year ago, when she was a trifle lucky to win the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.

It isn’t beyond the bounds of possibility that the diffficult-to-assess, Rhinestone Cowboy, could outclass his rivals.

He toyed with moderate opposition on several occasions and then did the same to the useful Thisthatandtother at Wincanton.

His cramped price and the nagging doubt he may not find a lot off the bridle, however, put me off him.

The rather quirky Intersky Falcon keeps winning and has to be on the short-list, while Rooster Booster, better on this track than anywhere else, is another who has to be respected.

Like-A-Butterfly to become the first of her sex since Flakey Dove in ’94 and Charlie Swan to win his fourth Champion Hurdle is the hopeful prediction.

Ruby Walsh can team up with Paul Nicholls’ Azertyuiop to land the nap in the Irish Independent Arkle Trophy.

He wasn’t far off the best over flights and has taken to jumping fences like a duck to water.

Indeed, Azertyuiop is unbeaten, turning in brilliant displays at Market Rasen, Cheltenham and Wincanton.

Back In Front, a horse who oozes class, has to be fancied to come late and fast and take the opening Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.

The selection has done everything asked of him in three runs this season and his trainer, Edward O’Grady, who believes he could be a Champion Hurdle horse, knows exactly what is required to win at this Festival.


2.00 Back In Front (n.b)

2.35 Azertyuiop (nap)

3.15 Like-A-Butterfly

4.00 Joss Naylor

4.40 Ibis Rochelais

5.20 Ravenswood

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