The initial list of entries for the 2012 Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham have been made and as expected they are headed by 2011 winner, Hurricane Fly. The Willie Mullins horse is the stand out name on a top class list of 27 names despite the fact we are yet to see him have a run this season. Hurricane Fly is a notoriously difficult horse to train but as he showed in 2011 if he is anywhere near his brilliant best at Cheltenham he will be very tough to beat. At the moment we are likely to see the horse make his seasonal debut in the Irish Champion Hurdle at the end of the month where we should learn plenty more about his fitness and form ahead of the Festival. Hurricane Fly remains the clear favourite in the Champion Hurdle betting but there are a number of potential stars in the division this year who could be ready to make the big step up in class.
One of the most interesting names on the initial list of entries is the Dermot Weld trained, Unaccompanied, who is bidding to become only the third mare ever to win the Champion Hurdle. She has some great form on the flat in the book with a win over St Nicholas Abbey perhaps the highlight and she seems equally happy over the hurdles this season. Unaccompanied was runner-up in the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival last season behind Zarkandar who is another one entered for Champion Hurdle this season. Other notable entries at this stage include 2010 Champion Hurdler Binocular and his young stable mate Grandouet who looks a highly progressive horse for Nicky Henderson. It looks like a hot renewal this year with much depending on the fitness and form of Hurricane Fly who will be looking to win the race for the second successive year.