Fly tops Champion Hurdle field

Hurricane Fly, the hot favourite and title-holder, heads 10 runners in the Stan James Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham on Tuesday.

Hurricane Fly, the hot favourite and title-holder, heads 10 runners in the Stan James Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham on Tuesday.

Willie Mullins’ brilliant eight-year-old has won his last seven starts, all of which were Grade Ones.

He showed he was as good as ever when destroying the opposition in the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown in January on his belated first run of the season.

He now bids to become the first horse to defend their Champion crown since another Irish-trained hurdler, Hardy Eustace, in 2005.

Hurricane Fly will be accompanied to post by his stablemate Zaidpour, himself unbeaten in four races this season.

Mullins has, though, taken out Thousand Stars, who still holds an entry in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle on Thursday

The main British hope is the Nicky Henderson-trained Binocular, who lifted this prize in 2010 but was unable to compete last year.

Regaining the crown can be done as Comedy Of Errors showed with wins in 1973 and 1975.

Last year’s Triumph Hurdle victor Zarkandar heads Paul Nicholls’ four-strong team.

He put up a sterling performance on his return to action to land the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury last month.

Rock On Ruby, Celestial Halo, who was second in 2009, and Brampour make up the Nicholls quartet.

Kalann, Oscars Well and Overturn complete the list of runners.

The only other horse withdrawn at the final declaration stage was Olofi.

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