The Champion Hurdle picture changed once more over the weekend at Leopardstown following the victory achieved by Brave Inca in the Irish Champion Hurdle. It was Brave Inca’s 10th Grade One win and he proved yet again what a tough and brave horse he is.
The 11 year old had been reported as in great shape prior to the race and that he had come on considerably following his two previous runs this season. Last time out he finished third behind Sublimity, but managed to comfortably reverse that form in this race, but it was reported afterwards that Sublimity, who finished fourth, had been suffering from an infection.
It was Sublimity who headed off as the 2-1 favourite to confirm his December Festival victory over Brave Inca, but he failed as the old battler kicked clear at the final turn before having to dig even deeper to hold off a late challenge from Muirhead.
After the December Hurdle, jockey, Ruby Walsh had told trainer, Colm Murphy, that Brave Inca would win this race and he was to prove right, even though his victory still came as a shock to his trainer. The fact that Brave Inca had been off course for 18 months makes this win even more special and is great testimony to Murphy’s training ability.
Brave Inca who won the Champion Hurdle in 2006 has had his odds shortened for the same race again this year, but Bookmakers by and large remained unconvinced and he is still available at 25-1 with Paddy Power to repeat his success. Binocular remains firm favourite for the Cheltenham first day feature, he is around the 6/4 mark generally with the nearest to him in the betting being the Paul Nicholls trained, Celestial Halo and Irish candidate, Crack Away Jack; they are both around 12-1.
Sublimity’s odds were also eased and he is now around the 14-1 mark from 10’s, Muirhaed can be backed at as big as 25-1, which are not bad odds for the Noel Meade trained battler. Meade has two others in the race, Jered and Harchibald, but neither is expected to run until Cheltenham.