Hurricane Fly looks just Champion

HURRICANE FLY, deprived of the opportunity to run at the festival for the last two years because of niggling injuries, can leave all of that frustration behind by landing the Stan James Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham this afternoon.

He possesses a high cruising speed and stays further than two miles, which makes Willie Mullins’ seven-year-old the one they all have to beat.

Mullins, for the first time, has had a clear run with his charge this season and Hurricane Fly has finally begun to realise his huge potential. He’s won all three of his races, the latest when coasting away from old rival Solwhit to the tune of three and a half lengths at Leopardstown in the Irish Champion Hurdle in January.

Menorah will strip one of the freshest horses in the field, having been rested since easily beating Cue Card at Cheltenham back on December 11. Certainly, however, we would liked to have seen a lot more of him.

That said, he is a winner three times round the track and Philip Hobbs’ charge is greatly feared.

Peddlers Cross has a serious engine, having warmed up for this with a bloodless success at Kelso last time. The hill will hold no fears for Peddlers Cross, considering he won the Neptune Investment Hurdle here a year ago.

That race, of course, was also won by both Istabraq and Hardy Eustace, before they became Champion Hurdle heroes.

Quevega will hardly represent any sort of value in the David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle, on her belated seasonal debut, but still has to be the choice. The vibes from Willie Mullins’ are positive and it is well to remember that she showed her class at the Punchestown festival last year when thrashing male counterparts in a Grade 1.

Alan King’s Medermit gets the nod in the Irish Independent Arkle Challenge Trophy. He stays further than two miles, emphasising his current well-being when beating Captain Chris at Sandown.

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