Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 December 2014

Fly faces 10 in Champion clash

Hurricane Fly
Hurricane Fly

Hurricane Fly faces 10 rivals in the Stan James Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham on Tuesday.

Ruby Walsh teams up with Ireland's main hope as both rider and trainer Willie Mullins seek their first success in the race.

Walsh, who is favourite to be top jockey at the meeting, was back in the winner's enclosure for the first time at Sandown on Saturday since he broke his leg at Down Royal in November.

Making a belated first appearance at the Festival, Hurricane Fly has already won seven Grade Ones, the latest coming in the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown in January. Mullins also saddles Thousand Stars, winner of the County Hurdle last year.

Menorah tops the home defence in the shock absence of Binocular, whose trainer Nicky Henderson will still have a runner in the shape of Welsh Champion Hurdle winner Oscar Whisky.

Trainer Philip Hobbs and jockey Richard Johnson struck with Rooster Booster in 2003 and in Menorah, winner of the Supreme Novices' Hurdle 12 months ago, they have the new favourite.

Peddlers Cross brings a 100% record to the table and carries the hopes of the North. Donald McCain's stable star has won the Fighting Fifth and Morebattle Hurdles this season and won at last year's Festival. McCain also saddles Overturn.

Khyber Kim will try to go one better than last year for the Nigel Twiston-Davies team while Alan King, triumphant with Katchit in 2008, relies on Kingwell Hurdle victor Mille Chief.

Philip Fenton is hoping Dunguib, the 2009 Champion Bumper winner, can show his true colours after only finishing third in the Supreme last spring. The field is completed by Bygones Of Brid and Clerk's Choice.

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