Fly fails to impress layers
Hurricane Fly has been eased in the Stan James Champion Hurdle betting after a lacklustre reappearance win in the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown.
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Sent off the 1/16 favourite to beat four rivals, last year's Cheltenham Festival hero had to be rousted along to hold off stablemate Marito by little over a length with Mikhael D'Haguenet not beaten far in third having cut out the running.
Sky Bet, Paddy Power and William Hill all pushed him out to 6/1, with the latter's spokesman Jon Ivan-Duke commenting: "He doesn't always sparkle on his seasonal debut but we'd have expected more from Hurricane Fly against that field.
"It already looks like being an ultra-competitive Champion Hurdle, so he's going to have to bring his 'A' game come March."
The sponsors concurred, and having cut Hurricane Fly to 5/1 from 6/1 on the morning of the Morgiana were compelled to leave him unchanged after it.
Ladbrokes had him at 4/1 before the race but eased that quote a point afterwards. Their Hayley O'Connor said: "There was a bit less sparkle in his performance today than we've come to expect from Hurricane Fly, so we've eased him in the betting to retain his Cheltenham crown."
There were a couple of key Arkle Trophy moves too as both Dodging Bullets and Felix Yonger staked early claims for the two-mile contest with impressive enough victories at Cheltenham and Punchestown respectively.
Dodging Bullets settled at a general 16/1 after accounting for Raya Star and Ted Veale, while Stan James were most impressed with Felix Yonger's defeat of Defy Logic at 12/1 although only Boylesports and Coral offered 16s.
Similarly, horses from both meetings were cut for the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle with The Liquidator 14/1 having won at Cheltenham and Faugheen 20s after he strolled to victory in the opener at Punchestown.
Morning Assembly's defeat of Don Cossack saw him cut to a best of 16/1 for the RSA Chase with William Hill and Ladbrokes, although the runner-up went down fighting and remains a 16/1 shot generally. Felix Yonger was also quoted in this market at a standout 16/1 with Stan James.
Finally, both Kid Cassidy and Sire De Grugy can be backed at 25/1 for the Queen Mother Champion Chase after the former came out best in a battle for the Schloer Chase at Cheltenham, while Dell' Arca was given an ambitious 33/1 quote for the Champion Hurdle by Stan James after winning the Greatwood, a race they sponsored.
"We've given Dell' Arca an initial quote of 33/1 for the StanJames Champion Hurdle in March," said Stan James spokesman Rory Jiwani. "He was bought for 280,000 euros so there was a chance he might be a decent animal."