Stan James Champion Hurdle
2m 110y, Class 1
|Tuesday 11th March 2014|
Hurricane Fly Chases Third success
Defending champion Hurricane Fly headlines 9 entries going forward for the £400,000 Grade One Stan James Champion Hurdle over an extended two miles, the highlight on the first day of The Festival, Champion Day, Tuesday, March 11.
Willie Mullins could not be happier with the condition of his super-horse Hurricane Fly as his day of destiny draws closer.
The champion hurdler - having won 19 Grade One races to hold the record - is now heading for a hat-trick of Champion Hurdle wins in what many see as the toughest race of his career.
The last 10-year-old to win hurdling's biggest prize was the brilliant Sea Pigeon in 1980, who, incidentally, also struck as an 11-year-old.
Hurricane Fly dispelled any notion a son of Montjeu would not come up the Cheltenham hill when striking gold in 2011, while 12 months ago he became the first horse since Comedy Of Errors in 1975 to regain the Champion Hurdle crown having lost it.
Five horses have won the race three times in Hatton's Grace (1949-1951), Sir Ken (1952-1954), Persian War (1968-1970), See You Then (1985-1987) and Istabraq (1998-2000).
A plethora of young pretenders lie in wait for Hurricane Fly's return to Prestbury Park, but Mullins could not be happier with his pride and joy after assessing his well-being at the track on Monday morning.
Mullins said: "His preparation has gone well and he has travelled over well. He's been out this morning and we're very happy with him. He looks very good and appears in good form. It is a very hot race, as a Champion Hurdle should be, but we are just focusing on our own horse and we are very happy with where we are with him.
"The track looks very good and I haven't any concerns about the ground."
Stan James Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy (Grade 1)
£418,000 added, 4yo plus, 2m 110y, Class 1
Good to Soft, Good in places
|1||4-13343||Captain Cee Bee (IRE) 44||13||11-10||E P Harty||M P Walsh|
|2||31/4-353||Grumeti 24||6||11-10||A King||W Hutchinson|
|3||111-111||Hurricane Fly (IRE) 44||10||11-10||W P Mullins||R Walsh|
|4||31-1124||Jezki (IRE) 44||6||11-10 h||Mrs J Harrington||B J Geraghty|
|5||11-1511||Melodic Rendezvous 24||8||11-10||J Scott||Nick Scholfield|
|6||121-111||My Tent Or Yours (IRE) 23||7||11-10||N J Henderson||A P McCoy|
|7||1111-32||Our Conor (IRE) 44||5||11-10||D T Hughes||D E Mullins|
|8||31-2122||Ptit Zig (FR) 52||5||11-10||P F Nicholls||D A Jacob|
|9||212-112||The New One (IRE) 75||6||11-10||N A Twiston-Davies||S Twiston-Davies|
Tony McCoy expects Jezki to be ridden more prominently in the race than has been the case so far this season.
"Hurricane Fly was very impressive when winning the Irish Champion Hurdle and he is still the one they have to beat at Cheltenham," McCoy wrote on his blog for Cheltenham racecourse.
"People will question the form and say Captain Cee Bee was not beaten far, but you have to remember that Hurricane Fly was in trouble coming to the last and still won by a length and a half.
"He keeps on winning and until that changes, he is the one to beat. I rode Jezki in the race and we finished fourth, but looking back we have been riding him wrong as he wants two and a half miles and I think positive tactics will see him to much better effect.
"If he is more positively ridden in a strong-run Champion Hurdle, then he has definitely got an each-way chance."
My Tent Or Yours confirmed his well-being with a pleasing workout at Seven Barrows.
Nicky Henderson said the dual Grade One winner has now recovered from a wound in the sole of a foot which had led to a slight concern over his participation in the big race on the opening day of the Festival.
My Tent Or Yours, winner of the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle and the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton this winter, will again flex his muscles in a spin on Friday, although the champion trainer has repeatedly stressed all of his significant work for Cheltenham was completed some time ago.
Henderson said on Thursday: "He's 100 per cent fine and he cantered this morning.
"He'll work again tomorrow and he's absolutely fine.
"In terms of how he is, he's where he was last week and the week before that."
My Tent Or Yours warmed up for the Champion Hurdle with a jumpers' bumper victory at Kempton last month and is as big as 5-1 for Cheltenham glory.
The five-year-old has run creditably in defeat behind Hurricane Fly the last twice, most recently pushing the great horse all the way in the Irish Champion Hurdle. He also has age statistics to overcome, with 2008 hero Katchit the only five-year-old in almost 30 years to take Champion Hurdle glory.
Hughes said: "I couldn't be happier with him, everything has gone well. He was never in a battle last year. The first day he ran he needed it and the second day he showed he had guts but probably showed he needed another run. It looks like Captain Cee Bee might set the pace, if he does it will be a truly-run race, just what we want."
Our Conor has been bought by Barry Connell since his Festival victory and the leading owner is thrilled to be represented in one of the meeting's championship events.
He told At The Races: "It would be enormous to win the either the Gold Cup or Champion Hurdle and those races are fiercely competitive. To even have a runner is an honour in itself and I'm looking forward to having a horse be competitive there.
"We saw what he did last year when he destroyed a top-class Triumph field and his campaign has been laid out by a master trainer whose prowess of peaking horses for the big day is nearly second to none, he did it twice with Hardy Eustace and I know he's very confident, very sweet on the horse."
The New One attempts to enhance his excellent course record on Tuesday.
The six-year-old has saved his very best efforts for the Prestbury Park circuit, winning four of his six starts there, and was arguably most impressive when showing scintillating acceleration to win the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle at last year's Festival.
He has won twice from three starts this season and was last seen running fellow Champion Hurdle candidate My Tent Or Yours close in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton, despite fluffing his lines at the final obstacle.
Trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies said: "Preparations have gone smoothly and it must be a plus that he has done so well at the course. I think it's the hottest (Champion Hurdle) there has been for a very long time, I don't know anything about the Irish horses, we haven't run against them at all but they're obviously a very strong team and we'll have to be at our best.
"I don't think his jumping's a problem, it was just such a shame he met that one hurdle wrong (at Kempton). I'm not worried about the pace, a slow pace will hurt the others as much as him."
The New One will be ridden by Twiston-Davies' son Sam, who said: "It's going to be a serious race, very, very competitive, but I love our horse to pieces, he's got all the right attributes. He's so relaxed, just a switched-off horse, but when you give him a kick in the belly or a slap around the shoulder it's amazing how quickly he can click through the gears.
"We're going in there with a solid chance - the others will take some beating but we'll give it our best shot."
Melodic Rendezvous has been given a clean bill of health after his narrow victory in the Bathwick Tyres Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton on February 15.
Jeremy Scott's chestnut is in line to go for the Champion Hurdle, but had to work hard on desperate ground in Somerset to get the better of Zarkandar.
He was greeted enthusiastically by his syndicate Cash For Honours, and Scott said: "He's absolutely fine today, I think some of the owners might be have had thick heads this morning, though.
"Everyone's keen to go to Cheltenham now."
Alan King is happy to run Grumeti in the Stan James Champion Hurdle following his pleasing return to action at Wincanton.
The six-year-old showed up well for a long way in the Kingwell Hurdle before he was outmuscled by Melodic Rendezvous and Zarkandar close home.
King was especially encouraged as the Grade One-winning Grumeti is not suited by heavy ground and connections will now chart a route towards the Cheltenham Festival for what is shaping up to be an epic renewal of the Champion Hurdle on March 11.
Ptit Zig was then beaten by Melodic Rendezvous at Haydock when trying to give a horse three years his elder 4lb.
"He's very well, but we are still keeping our powder dry regarding Cheltenham," said part-owner Barry Fulton.
"He will only run if the ground is very soft, if it's much quicker than that then we won't be going.
"He'll have another run somewhere this season - where, I'm not sure - but I'm reluctant to over-race him as he'll be a lovely chaser in time."
Captain Cee Bee has supplemented at a cost of £20,000 by owner JP McManus and trainer Eddie Harty.
He finished third, beaten just two and three-quarter lengths by Hurricane Fly in the Irish Champion Hurdle last time, prompting connections to give the popular veteran another shot at Festival glory.
Harty said: "He ran very well in the Irish Champion, but that came after the English Champion had closed. His form was very good there so we decided to supplement him for the race. We're pleased with him and he's in good form. It's not his first Festival run and he has has been very good there in the past.
"I'd imagine the ground will be good to soft or around that next week which will suit us fine."
Champion Hurdle (all ratings weight-adjusted)
184 HURRICANE FLY
183 MY TENT OR YOURS
182 THE NEW ONE
180 OUR CONOR
175 MELODIC RENDEZVOUS
169 PTIT ZIG
167 CAPTAIN CEE BEE
CHAMPION HURDLE PREVIOUS RESULTS
2013-WINNER- HURRICANE FLY 9-11-10 Owner-George Creighton & Rose Boyd; Trainer-Willie Mullins IRE; Jockey-Ruby Walsh; SP-13/8 Fav
2ND-Rock On Ruby 8-11-10 Owner-The Festival Goers; Trainer-Harry Fry; Jockey-Noel Fehily; SP-11/2
3RD-Countrywide Flame 5-11-10 Owner-Estio Pinnacle Racing; Trainer-John Quinn; Jockey-Denis O’Regan; SP-16/1
9 ran, Time-3m 59.35s; Dist-2½, 1¾
2012-WINNER-ROCK ON RUBY 7-11-10 Owner-The Festival Goers; Trainer-Paul Nicholls; Jockey-Noel Fehily; SP-11/1
2ND-Overturn 8-11-10 Owner-Tim Leslie; Trainer-Donald McCain; Jockey-Jason Maguire; SP-20/1
3RD-Hurricane Fly 8-11-10 Owner-George Creighton & Rose Boyd; Trainer-Willie Mullins IRE; Jockey-Ruby Walsh; SP-4/6 Fav
10 ran, Time-3m 50.10s; Dist 3¾, 1¾
2011-WINNER-HURRICANE FLY 7-11-10 Owner-George Creighton & Mrs Rose Boyd; Trainer-Willie Mullins IRE; Jockey-Ruby Walsh; SP-11/4 Fav
2ND-Peddlers Cross 6-11-10 Owner-Tim Leslie; Trainer-Donald McCain; Jockey-Jason Maguire; SP-9/2
3RD-Oscar Whisky 6-11-10 Owner- Walters Plant Hire Ltd; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-Barry Geraghty; SP-7/1
11 ran, Time-3m 53.71s; Dist 11⁄4 , 5
2010-WINNER-BINOCULAR 6-11-10 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-A P McCoy; SP-9/1
2ND-Khyber Kim 8-11-10 Owner-Caroline Mould; Trainer-Nigel Twiston-Davies; Jockey-Paddy Brennan; SP-7/1
3RD-Zaynar 5-11-10 Owner- Men In Our Position; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-Andrew Tinkler; SP-15/2
12 ran, Time-3m 53.80s; Dist-3½, 6 11/4 Fav Go Native (10th)
2009-WINNER-PUNJABI 6-11-10 Owner-Raymond Tooth; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-Barry Geraghty; SP-22/1
2ND-Celestial Halo 5-11-10 Owner-The Stewart Family; Trainer-Paul Nicholls; Jockey-Ruby Walsh; SP-17/2
3RD-Binocular 5-11-10 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-Tony McCoy; SP-6/4 Fav
23 ran, Time-4m 0.90s; Dist- nk, hd
2008-WINNER-KATCHIT 5-11-10 Owner-D S J P Syndicate; Trainer-Alan King; Jockey-Robert Thornton; SP-10/1
2ND-Osana 6-11-10 Owner-Thomas Barr; Trainer-David Pipe; Jockey-Tom Scudamore; SP-9/2
3RD-Punjabi 5-11-10 Owner-Raymond Tooth; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-Barry Geraghty; SP-25/1
15 ran, Time-4m 8.10s; Dist-1, 5 2/1 Fav Sizing Europe (14th)
2007-WINNER-SUBLIMITY 7-11-10 Owner-Bill Hennessy; Trainer-John Carr IRE; Jockey-Philip Carberry; SP-16/1
2ND-Brave Inca 9-11-10 Owner-Novices Syndicate; Trainer-Colm Murphy IRE; Jockey-Ruby Walsh; SP-11/2
3RD-Afsoun 5-11-10 Owner-Trevor Hemmings; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-Mick Fitzgerald; SP-28/1
10 ran, Time-3m 55.70s; Dist-3, nk 6/4 Fav Detroit City (6th)
2006-WINNER-BRAVE INCA 8-11-10 Owner-Novices Syndicate; Trainer-Colm Murphy IRE; Jockey-Tony McCoy; SP-7/4 Fav
2ND-Macs Joy 7-11-10 Owner-Mac’s J Racing Syndicate; Trainer-Jessica Harrington IRE; Jockey-Barry Geraghty; SP-13/2
3RD-Hardy Eustace 9-11-10 Owner-Lar Byrne; Trainer-Dessie Hughes IRE; Jockey-Conor O’Dwyer; SP-11/2
18 ran. Time-3m 50.00s; Dist-1, 3½
2005-WINNER-HARDY EUSTACE 8-11-10 Owner-Lar Byrne; Trainer-Dessie Hughes IRE; Jockey-Conor O’Dwyer; SP-
7/2 Jt Fav
2ND-Harchibald 6-11-10 Owner-Des Sharkey; Trainer-Noel Meade IRE; Jockey-Paul Carberry; SP-7/1
3RD-Brave Inca 7-11-10 Owner-Novices Syndicate; Trainer-Colm Murphy IRE; Jockey-Barry Cash; SP-10/1
14 ran, Time-3m 51.50s; Dist-nk, nk 7/2 Jt Fav Back In Front (9th)
2004-WINNER-HARDY EUSTACE 7-11-10 Owner-Lar Byrne; Trainer-Dessie Hughes IRE; Jockey-Conor O’Dwyer; SP-33/1
2ND-Rooster Booster 10-11-10 Owner-Terry Warner; Trainer-Philip Hobbs; Jockey-Richard Johnson; SP-11/8 Fav
3RD-Intersky Falcon 7-11-10 Owner-Interskyracing.com & Jacqui O’Neill; Trainer: Jonjo O’Neill; Jockey-Liam Cooper; SP-8/1
14 ran, Time-3m 54.50s; Dist-5, 4
2003-WINNER-ROOSTER BOOSTER 9-12-00 Owner-Terry Warner; Trainer-Philip Hobbs; Jockey-Richard Johnson; SP-9/2
2ND-Westender 7-12-00 Owner-Matt Archer & Jean Broadhurst; Trainer-Martin Pipe; Jockey-Rodi Greene; SP-33/1
3RD-Rhinestone Cowboy 7-12-00 Owner-Sue Magnier; Trainer-Jonjo O’Neill; Jockey-Norman Williamson; SP-5/2
Fav 17 ran, Time-3m 54.70s; Dist-11, 3
2002-WINNER-HORS LA LOI III 7-12-00 Owner-Paul Green; Trainer-James Fanshawe; Jockey-Dean Gallagher; SP-10/1
2ND-Marble Arch 6-12-00 Owner-Martin Wilson, Rory Sweet and Mary Wilson; Trainer-Hughie Morrison; Jockey-Ruby Walsh; SP-25/1
3RD-Bilboa 5-11-09 Owner-Jorg Vasicek; Trainer-Francois Doumen FR; Jockey-Thierry Doumen; SP-14/1
15 ran, Time-3m 53.80s; Dist- 3, ½ 2/1 Fav Istabraq (pu)
2000-WINNER-ISTABRAQ 8-12-00 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Aidan O’Brien IRE; Jockey-Charlie Swan; SP-8/15 Fav
2ND-Hors La Loi III 5-12-00 Owner-Paul Green; Trainer-Francois Doumen FR; Jockey-Dean Gallagher; SP-11/1
3RD-Blue Royal 5-12-00 Owner-Lynn Wilson; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-Mick Fitzgerald; SP-16/1
12 ran, Time-3m 48.10s; Dist-4, nk
1999-WINNER-ISTABRAQ 7-12-00 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Aidan O’Brien IRE; Jockey-Charlie Swan; SP-4/9 Fav
2ND-Theatreworld 7-12-00 Owner-Sue Magnier; Trainer-Aidan O’Brien IRE; Jockey-Tommy Treacy; SP-16/1 3RD-French Holly 8-12-00 Owner-Kieran Flood; Trainer-Ferdy Murphy; Jockey-Andrew Thornton; SP-11/2
14 ran, Time 3m 56.7s; Dist-3½, 2½
1998-WINNER-ISTABRAQ 6-12-00 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Aidan O’Brien IRE; Jockey-Charlie Swan; SP-3/1 Fav
2ND-Theatreworld 6-12-00 Owner-Sue Magnier; Trainer-Aidan O’Brien IRE; Jockey-Tommy Treacy; SP-20/1
3RD-I’m Supposin 6-12-00 Owner-Nicholas Cooper; Trainer-Richard Rowe; Jockey-Richard Dunwoody; SP-6/1
18 ran, Time 3m 49.1s; Dist-12, 1
1997-WINNER-MAKE A STAND 6-12-00 Owner-Peter Deal; Trainer-Martin Pipe; Jockey-Tony McCoy; SP-7/1
2ND-Theatreworld 5-12-00 Owner-Sue Magnier; Trainer-Aidan O’Brien IRE; Jockey-Norman Williamson; SP-33/1
3RD-Space Trucker 6-12-00 Owner-Elaine Queally; Trainer-Jessica Harrington IRE; Jockey-John Shortt; SP-9/2
17 ran, Time-3m 48.4s, Dist-5, ¾ 7/2 Fav Large Action (pu)
1996-WINNER-COLLIER BAY 6-12-00 Owner-Wally Sturt; Trainer-Jim Old; Jockey-Graham Bradley; SP-9/1
2ND-Alderbrook 7-12-00 Owner-Ernie Pick; Trainer-Kim Bailey; Jockey-Richard Dunwoody; SP-10/11 Fav
3RD-Pridwell 6-12-00 Owner-Jones, Berstock and Fleet Partnership; Trainer-Martin Pipe; Jockey-Chris Maude;
SP-33/1 16 ran, Time-3m 59.0s, Dist-2½, 6
1995-WINNER-ALDERBROOK 6-12-00 Owner-Ernie Pick; Trainer-Kim Bailey; Jockey-Norman Williamson; SP-11/2
2ND-Large Action 7-12-00 Owner-Brian Stewart-Brown; Trainer-Oliver Sherwood; Jockey-Jamie Osborne; SP-4/1 Jt Fav
3RD-Danoli 7-12-00 Owner-Dan O’Neill; Trainer-Tom Foley IRE; Jockey-Charlie Swan; SP-4/1 Jt Fav
14 ran, Time-4m 03.1s, Dist-5, 2