There were 29 Champion Hurdle runners who stood their ground at the latest forfeit stage for the big first day feature at the forthcoming Cheltenham Festival. As has been expected trainer, Nicky Henderson appears to have by far the strongest hand, with red hot favourite, Binocular heading a trio of quality that also includes last years third, Punjabi.
There are four Champion Hurdle past winners in the field, Katchit who won last year, Sublimity who won on 2007, Brave Inca the 2006 champion and Hardy Eustace, who won in both 2005 and 2004
David Pipe has kept two in the race, including last seasons runner up, Osana, who ran well recently at Sandown when beaten close home to the Paul Nicholls trained Celestial Halo. Nicholls who has had far more success with his horses over fences believes that Celestial Halo represents his best chance for a long time, but surprisingly he is behind Osana in the betting.
There are a couple of other interesting Irish entries, Harchibald, runner up in 2005 represents the Noel Meade yard, who also enters one time big fancy Jered. But perhaps the most intriguing entry is that of the highly rated novice, Hurrican Fly, trained by Willie Mullins.
Crack Away Jack and last years favourite, Sizing Europe are also still standing
Binocular is as short as 6-4 however to take the race, with Osana next best at 10-1 and Celestial Halo is at 12s.