Fly favourite for third Champion

  • Last Updated: January 26 2014, 16:35 GMT

Hurricane Fly is clear favourite for the Stan James Champion Hurdle after gamely landing the Irish equivalent for a fourth time.

Hurricane Fly: Favourite for a third Champion Hurdle
Hurricane Fly: Favourite for a third Champion Hurdle

There had been concerns over whether the 10-year-old would be able to produce his best at Leopardstown after a midweek scare in training, but those were allayed as he responded to Ruby Walsh's every urging to win by a length and a half from Our Conor.

Sponsors Stan James were sufficiently impressed to cut him to 5/2 for the feature race on day one of the Cheltenham Festival and they weren't alone, although Sky Bet, Ladbrokes, Coral and William Hill quoted 3/1.

Stan James spokesman Rory Jiwani said: "We cut the Fly to 2/1 initially as he's by far our worst result in the book but we want to be competitive in our race so we've gone 5/2 about Willie Mullins' star securing a third Stan James Champion Hurdle.

"Our Conor ran a belter in second although he'll be two pounds worse off at Cheltenham. We cut him from 8/1 to 7/1 immediately after the race but we soon had to trim that to 6/1."

Ladbrokes, while impressed, decided to leave their previous quote of 3/1 unchanged as Hayler O'Connor explains: "Hurricane Fly's performance was thrilling, but with this year's Champion Hurdle shaping up to be such a competitive renewal, we were happy to leave his price as it is."

Our Conor was also cut having taken a bit step forward from the Ryanair Hurdle, in which he finished almost six lengths behind Hurricane Fly. Last year's Triumph Hurdle winner is into a general 6/1 to become the first horse since Katchit to win the Champion Hurdle as a five-year-old.

Sky Bet's Michael Shinners said: "You just have to doff your cap to Hurricane Fly. He was our Price Boost today and looked to be in trouble at the last but found plenty to win going away. Clearly he's going to be very hard to beat when he goes to defend his crown at Cheltenham.

"Our Conor seemed to take a step forward from his reappearance and I'm sure his supporters will believe there's more to come next time while Jezki disappointed, although I'd be surprised to see such exaggerated waiting tactics employed again."

On the same card, Trifolium shot towards the head of the betting for the Racing Post Arkle having won the Irish version under Bryan Cooper. He's now 8/1 generally and a standout 10/1 chance with Ladbrokes.

Conversely, Felix Yonger is out to a best of 16/1 with Ladbrokes having finished a remote second while race favourite Defy Logic ran poorly having burst a blood vessel and can now be backed at 20/1 with BetVictor.

  • Posted at 1530 GMT on 26/01/2014.