By the time the 2014 Cheltenham champion hurdle comes around Hurricane Fly will be a 10 year old attempting to defend his crown despite his advancing years. His age is of great concern alone and I for one would be against him simply on that score, but there are other reasons to be against the champion this year.
On the same day in 2013 we witnessed a race in which I believe the first 3 home would have beaten Hurricane Fly if they had ran in the champion hurdle. The winner of this is probably going chasing this year but both My Tent or Yours and Jezki will be aimed at the Champion Hurdle this year.
Why do I think they have superior claims to Hurricane Fly ?. The overall time of Hurricane’s race was quite a bit slower than the novice race but more importantly the sectionals from the second last were far better in the novice race than the Champion. This strongly suggests to me that the beaten horses in the Champion have not a cat in hell’s chance of being champions this year but more importantly Hurricane Fly, who currently occupies 15% of the market, will find it tough to raise his game to champion standards, should he even posses such ability at the age of 10. Jezki and My Tent offer interesting possibilities. My Tent has a high cruising speed and bags of ability but probably is a bit quirky or at least not as straight forward as Jezki. We also have the fact that Jezki was mounting a challenge at the last when he blundered adding to his slight mistake at the second last. I like also the fact that he came out of such a tough race and won at Punchestown, demonstrating his resolve and powers of recovery. They both strike me as serious players with regard to the Champion Hurdle. The New One is also clearly useful and strikes me as more of a 2 mile horse than a 20f one. His defeat by Zarkander however means he will have to be, as that form leaves him with something to find, but as a young horse he could well be on the upgrade with the added drop in trip an added bonus.
What about Hurricane, well not at 11/2 or any single figure price for me.