Stan James Champion Hurdle
|Grade 1, Cheltenham 15:20
2m 110y, Class 1
|Tuesday 10th March 2015|
16 contenders going forward for the hurdling championship
The unbeaten Willie Mullins-trained seven-year-old is the Evens favourite with the sponsor after extending his unbeaten record to nine in the Grade One Christmas Hurdle at Kempton Park on Boxing Day.
Faugheen took the Grade One Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle at The Festival last year and is bidding to follow in the hoofprints of Hardy Eustace and Istabraq, who won that prestigious race en route to Stan James Champion Hurdle glory.
Hurricane Fly is on course to return to Cheltenham to run in his fifth Champion Hurdle.
The 11-year-old continues to defy age following his breathless victory in the Irish Champion Hurdle, at Leopardstown on January 25. It was a record-breaking fifth success in the race for Hurricane Fly, extending his unbeaten record at the Dublin track to ten and recording his 22nd Grade One victory in the process.
For the third time this season 'The Fly' lowered the colours of the reigning Champion Hurdler Jezki, who blundered at the final obstacle when apparently held by his old rival before finishing third.
Hurricane Fly appeared to be in danger of forfeiting his Leopardstown record when losing ground down the back straight but he responded to Ruby Walsh's urging to close up on Jezki entering the home straight.
He powered into the lead at the last and, when Jezki made his error, Hurricane Fly was left to come home to a rapturous reception.
Tony McCoy rates Jezki as his best chance of riding a winner at his final Festival.
Barry Geraghty steered Jessica Harrington's stable star to last year's triumph as McCoy elected to ride fellow JP McManus-owned runner My Tent Or Yours, but he will be on board this time.
He said: "The horse I'm most looking forward to riding at the Festival is Jezki. I think he has got the best chance of winning."
Faugheen's owner Susannah Ricci is also responsible for star mare Annie Power, who was second in last year's Ladbrokes World Hurdle - her only defeat. The Mullins team is completed by the Wicklow Bloodstock Limited-owned Arctic Fire.
The Irish-trained entry also features last season's JCB Triumph Hurdle victor Tiger Roll (Gordon Elliott) and the unexposed Kitten Rock). The Edward O'Grady-trained five-year-old has recorded two facile victories this season, taking the Grade Three Fishery Lane Hurdle at Navan by almost eight lengths on his comeback in November and a two-mile Listed hurdle by 14 lengths at Limerick on December 28.
O'Grady said: "I have been pleased with Kitten Rock and the plan is to run him in the Limestone Lad Hurdle at Naas on Saturday.
"You have got to be happy with what he has done so far this season. It's not easy to place a four stroke five-year-old second season novice and he looks high in the handicap, so at this stage we thought he deserved an entry in the Champion Hurdle.
"I would like to bring him to Cheltenham if he proves he is up to it. We have also put him in the World Hurdle but, if he goes to The Festival, I would prefer to run in the Champion Hurdle.
"I think he is a better horse on soft ground, but that's not to say he won't run on good ground."
The Irish-trained entries are completed by the Aidan O'Brien-trained Plinth.
With Faugheen hot favourite for the Willie Mullins operation, the Naunton handler claims the "pressure is off a bit" as he prepares The New One for the highlight on day one of the Cheltenham Festival on March 10.
But Twiston-Davies believes there should be little disparity between the duo in the betting.
"The New One is really good - 100 per cent," said the trainer.
"The pressure is off a bit as he's not favourite, but it's nerve-racking and we are hoping everything goes smoothly.
"He's done brilliantly, but he's the same as Faugheen - neither have beaten championship horses this season.
"He quickens off any pace but we wouldn't want to let Faugheen get 10 lengths ahead."
Considered by many to have been desperately unlucky when third in the Champion Hurdle last season, The New One has since gone from strength to strength, winning his last five races.
He was not that impressive in a Champion Hurdle Trial at Haydock in January, but connections felt conditions were against him on Merseyside.
Twiston-Davies said: "In all of his races this season, apart from Haydock in the mud, he's been on the bridle at the last hurdle and he's quickened nicely.
"I don't think Haydock last time was too bad - it was terrible ground.
"But when he asked him to quicken he was hating every minute and it took a bit of time but when he did pick up, away he went."
Nicky Henderson is the most successful current trainer in the Stan James Champion Hurdle with five victories courtesy of See You Then (1985, 1986, 1987), Punjabi (2009) and Binocular (2010). The Lambourn handler has put in Vaniteux, third to Vautour in the 2014 Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle, and Grade One Christmas Hurdle fourth Sign Of A Victory.
The entries are completed by Grade Three StanJames.com Greatwood Hurdle winner Garde La Victoire (Philip Hobbs) and the John Ferguson-trained Purple Bay, winner of the Grade Two StanJames.com Elite Hurdle at Wincanton in November.
Stan James Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy
£400,000 added, 4yo plus, 2m 110y, Class 1
16 remaining entries
Going: Good to Soft (Soft in places)
|ANNIE POWER (IRE)||7||Susannah Ricci||Willie Mullins IRE|
|ARCTIC FIRE (GER)||6||Wicklow Bloodstock Limited||Willie Mullins IRE|
|BERTIMONT (FR)||5||Chris Giles||Dan Skelton|
|FAUGHEEN (IRE)||7||Susannah Ricci||Willie Mullins IRE|
|GARDE LA VICTOIRE (FR)||6||Diana Whateley||Philip Hobbs|
|HURRICANE FLY (IRE)||11||George Creighton & Rose Boyd||Willie Mullins IRE|
|IRVING||7||Axom XLIX||Paul Nicholls|
|JEZKI (IRE)||7||J P McManus||Jessica Harrington IRE|
|KITTEN ROCK (FR)||5||J P McManus||Edward O'Grady IRE|
|PLINTH (IRE)||5||J P McManus||Aidan O'Brien IRE|
|PURPLE BAY (IRE)||6||Bloomfields||John Ferguson|
|SIGN OF A VICTORY (IRE)||6||Matt & Lauren Morgan||Nicky Henderson|
|THE NEW ONE (IRE)||7||Sarah Such & Gino Paletta||Nigel Twiston-Davies|
|TIGER ROLL (IRE)||5||Gigginstown House Stud||Gordon Elliott IRE|
|UN DE SCEAUX (FR)||7||Eddie O'Connell||Willie Mullins IRE|
|VANITEUX (FR)||6||Richard & Lizzie Kelvin-Hughes||Nicky Henderson|
CHAMPION HURDLE PREVIOUS RESULTS
2014-WINNER-JEZKI 6-11-10 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Jessica Harrington IRE; Jockey-Barry Geraghty; SP-9/1
2ND-My Tent Or Yours 7-11-10 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-A P McCoy; SP-3/1
3RD-The New One 6-11-10 Owner-Sarah Such; Trainer-Nigel Twiston-Davies; Jockey-Sam Twiston-Davies; SP-10/3
9 ran, Time-3m 45.25s (new record); Dist-nk, 2½ 11/4 Fav Hurricane Fly (4th)
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