Belfast Telegraph

Back younger brigade

Cheltenham was decorated with a number of outstanding performances and no doubt, 2014 will produce its own memorable moments.

And while it's always risky taking ante-post Festival bets which won't come to fruition until 12 months down the road, there are a couple which catch the eye at this stage.

Our Connor and The New One made their mark in no uncertain terms in the Triumph and Neptune Hurdles respectively and both trainers Dessie Hughes and Nigel Twiston-Davies will be focusing on next year's Champion Hurdle.

Hurricane Fly, the first in 38 years to regain his title after losing it, has been installed 5/1 favourite to land a third but he will be 10-years-old by then and that'll make it more difficult. No 10-year-old has won since Sea Pigeon back in 1981 when he was 11. But then Hurricane has already bridged a long gap and his supporters will be confident he can do so again.

However, winning this particular crown three times, takes some doing and therefore it should pay to look to the younger brigade. Our Connor will win a Champion Hurdle but whether he can do so in 2014, is another matter as he'll be only a five year-old. Ketchit was the last at that age to triumph (2008) – the first since the great Night Nurse in 1976.

On the other hand, Our Connor is an exceptional prospect and appeals more than Hurricane Fly at the same price of 5/1. The youngster was very impressive on the watch, beating his rivals by more than a second. Never off the bridle, Our Connor actually quickened from the last flight despite being out on his own. Triumph Hurdle winners don't have a great record in the Champion due to that age factor, but if anything, Our Connor looks potentially better than Ketchit and that surely speaks volumes for Dessie Hughes's youngster.

The New One, yet to be beaten in four runs at Cheltenham, loves the place while winners of the Neptune have in the past gone on to win the 'Champion' a year later such as the great Istabraq and Hardy Eustace. He has an engine and won't be found wanting in terms of stamina. At 8/1, he too is worth an interest. Backing both Our Connor and The New One to level stakes at this stage, works out at a minimum 2/1 if either is successful.

Bobs Worth is all the rage to win the Gold Cup for a second year in succession after his fine show. Everything fell right for him, including the departure of Silviniaco Conti who made an uncharacteristic mistake.

The winner outstayed two rivals up the hill and although deserving of respect, only one horse in 40 years has defended the Gold Cup, namely Best Mate.

Unbeaten at Cheltenham, Bobs Worth has age on his side and a master trainer in Nicky Henderson but at a generous 10/1, Siviniaco has to be supported each-way as the only worthy challenger.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph