Fly eyes third Champion Hurdle
Hurricane Fly is a 4/1 chance for the Stan James Champion Hurdle after putting down an impressive marker with a two and a half length defeat of Jezki in the Ryanair Hurdle at Leopardstown with Our Conor a further three and a quarter lengths adrift in third.
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The nine-year-old was achieving a world record 18th top-level victory in this Grade One contest and will now attempt to win a third Champion Hurdle in March.
The first three home were all deemed to be live contenders for the two mile hurdling crown at Prestbury Park and connections of all three will have taken some positives from the race.
Our Conor was easy to back on his first run since a slight hold-up and was still right in contention at the last only for the lack of an outing to take its toll but that didn't prevent the layers from pushing out the odds of the young pretender.
A hugely impressive winner of the Triumph Hurdle last March, Our Conor went into the race at 5/1 and shorter but can now be backed at 10s with both StanJames and 888sport although he is as short as 6/1.
There was similar disparity with regards to the claims of Jezki who was a 9/1 chance before the race but is out to 12/1 in a place (youwin) and half that price with three firms. Jessica Harrington's second season hurdler is widely available at 8s.
There is more uniformity with regard to the price of Hurricane Fly who was cut from 6/1 to a general 4/1 with Rory Jiwani, spokesman for the Champion Hurdle sponsors, saying: "We want to be competitive in our race and My Tent Or Yours is currently a decent winner in the book with Hurricane Fly our worst result and The New One also a loser.
"So we've pushed Nicky Henderson's Christmas Hurdle winner out to 7/2 to leave the defending champion and Nigel Twiston-Davies' star as our 3/1 joint-favourites for the big race in March.
"Jezki is 8/1 from 9/1 with Our Conor out to 10/1 from 5/1. Before today, you could have made a strong case for five horses but we think it's now a three-way fight for the crown which Hurricane Fly is seeking to win for a third time."
As suggested by the prices, there is a marked difference of opinion and Sky Bet's Michael Shinners believes that Jezki did enough to suggest that he can be a player at Cheltenham.
"It's great to see Hurricane Fly is still at the top of the tree but the younger hurdlers are lining up to have another crack at him and there was plenty of encouragement for the connections of Jezki at Leopardstown," he revealed.
Sky Bet promoted Hurricane Fly to 7/2 from 9/2 with Jezki now a 7/1 chance.
Carlingford Lough was introduced to the betting for the RSA Chase at the Festival following his defeat of 11/8 favourite Morning Assembly in the Topaz Novice Chase later on the card.
John Kiely's seven year old was a game winner under Tony McCoy and is priced between 10/1 and 14s (Sky Bet and Boylesports) for the staying contest.
bet365 were sufficiently impressed by Morning Assembly's run in defeat to shave two points off his mark to 10/1 but several firms pushed the runner-up out to a general 16/1.
Jiwani added: "Carlingford Lough responded well to a typically strong AP McCoy drive. We gave the Galway Plate winner a first quote of 12/1 for the RSA Chase with runner-up Morning Assembly out from 10/1 to 14/1 for Cheltenham."