Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

Fly tops Champion Hurdle field

Hurricane Fly
Hurricane Fly

Hurricane Fly, the hot favourite and title-holder, heads 10 runners in the Stan James Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham on Tuesday.

Willie Mullins' brilliant eight-year-old has won his last seven starts, all of which were Grade Ones, and showed he was as good as ever when destroying the opposition in the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown in January on his belated first run of the season.

He now bids to become the first horse to retain his Champion crown since another Irish-trained hurdler, Hardy Eustace, in 2005, and will be accompanied to post by his stablemate Zaidpour, himself unbeaten in four races this season.

Mullins has, though, taken out Thousand Stars, who still holds an entry in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle on Thursday.

The main British hope is the Nicky Henderson-trained Binocular, who lifted this prize in 2010 but was unable to compete last year.

Last year's Triumph Hurdle victor Zarkandar heads Paul Nicholls' four-strong team, which also includes Rock On Ruby, Celestial Halo, who was second in 2009, and Brampour.

Kalann, Oscars Well and Overturn complete the list of runners.

The only other horse withdrawn at the final declaration stage was Olofi.

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