IT’S the highlight of Day 1, but where are Chris Graham and The Voice Of Value putting their money on the Champion Hurdle?
Cheltenham 15:20 | Champion Hurdle | Channel 4
I don’t think this is a great Champion Hurdle in all honesty and it’s teed up for exciting prospect Faugheen to run all over it. Eight runs in jump racing, eight wins.
He won at the Festival last year in the Neptune Novices Hurdle (a race that often leads to Champion Hurdle glory down the line) and has hardly broke sweat this season in his two wins.
In truth we don’t know whether he’s capable of grinding in races as tough as this, but the way he blitzed through his Cheltenham race last season gives me hope that he’s the real deal.
I’ve not been convinced by The New One this season. Four wins out of four but he just hasn’t looked the same beast that turned up here last year. His record at Cheltenham is superb but I think he had better claims last season.
Hurricane Fly has been the story of the season in many ways and after aggressively (and correctly) taking him on last year, I actually think he’s a value price now at double -figure odds. He won’t win though, but is entitled to be shorter than that.
I’m going to be positive about last year’s winner Jezki and back him to finish second to Faugheen. The Jessica Harrington trained seven year old won the race last year after two preceding defeats in Ireland and a similar picture might form here.
Beaten twice by Hurricane Fly last season, it’s been three this year! For me though, Jezki prefers Cheltenham to The Fly and after winning last year and finishing third in the 2013 Supreme he’s got a lot in his favour.
Best Bet – Chris Graham
Cheltenham 15:20 – Jezki without Faugheen (9/4 BetBright)
This promises to be an absolute cracker this year. Last year’s winner Jezki was a bit of a surprise and he returns for another go this time but there is also previous dual winner Hurricane Fly at the ripe old age of 11 and the new kid on the block Faugheen who looks like he could be incredible.
The New One was third last year but was badly hampered when Our Conor fell in front of him and for my money he would have won had it not been for that.
He just doesn’t look as good this year though with some dodgy jumping and a narrow win last time in a race that should have been a cake walk.
I’ve been trying to pick holes in Faugheen since last year but I just can’t find fault. He looks like he could be a superstar and I don’t even think he needs to improve much to win this.
It will be incredible to see what happens when he is asked more of a question coming up the hill this year but I think he will have what it takes to win.
I’m also going to back Kitten Rock each way. This young horse is in cracking form, and of course he will have to improve considerably even to get a place in this race but there are good vibes coming from the trainer, and at only five years old there is a potential for that big improvement.
At 29/1 he might be worth a small each way stake for interest. I don’t expect Faugheen and Jezki to be far away but there isn’t much value in backing them each way once I have nailed my Faugheen colours to the mast.