The Punter: Peddlers can Cross line first
The McCain name is renowned with the success of Red Rum in the Grand National.
Following the controversial withdrawal due to a medication problem of ante-post favourite and last year's winner Binocular whom Peddlers beat earlier this season, the way is open for Jason Maguire to make the most of his successful appeal against a ban which threatened his appearance at the meeting and at the same time, deliver McCain junior's biggest win.
Donald, like his father, is not given to exaggeration and over-egging puddings. He speaks as he finds and when he says “Everything this horse does scares me to death” it's time to sit up and take much notice.
That was his comment after Peddlers streaked away from the opposition including Binocular in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle.
No wonder Maguire was anxious to keep the ride. Peddlers won last year's Neptune Hurdle over 2m 5f, so getting up the Cheltenham hill will be no problem for a horse which also has according to Jason, ‘pace to burn.’
Due to the way the race is run, speedsters often find the petrol running out in the closing stages. That won't be the case for the Cross and it's hard not to see him in at the finish.
At odds of 4-1 and a quarter the odds a place, he is a solid each-way bet but have the confidence to back to win.
Of course, cases can be made for several in what is a competitive race.
Trainer Philip Hobbs believes the new favourite Minorah could be the best he has ever handled and if Cue Card takes the opening race, the Supreme Novices' Hurdle, then that will be a big pointer as Minorah beat Cue Card in the International Hurdle here in December and also won the Supreme last year.
Hurricane Fly carries the Irish hopes but while Willie Mullins is bullish about him, Hurricane has never raced outside Ireland.
Champion Hurdle betting: 4-1 Menorah, Hurricane Fly; Peddlers Cross; 7-1 Oscar Whisky; 9-1 Dunguib; 12-1 Kyber Kim; 14-1 bar.