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Punters Should Do Their Brains On Power In Champion Hurdle Market

Wednesday 1st March 2017
Nicky Henderson

The Champion Hurdle is one of the jewels in the crown of the Cheltenham Festival, and although it might like some star quality this season, it is still a race to look forward to.

The day one feature has lost both Annie Power and Faugheen, the previous two winners, and that has led to some suggesting the 2017 renewal would be sub-standard. That may well be the case on paper but it does at least make it a fascinating race for punters to sink their teeth into...

An interesting Fight For Favouritism

At this stage, it is hard to predict anything about the Champion Hurdle let alone who is going to start favourite when the tapes go up.

At the time of writing, there are three horses towards the head of the market with Buveur D'Air, Yanworth and Petit Mouchoir the three principles. The trio have all impressed this season, to varying degrees, but all three come at the race from different perspectives.

Buveur D'Air is perhaps the classiest of them when it comes to 2m at least, with his 3rd place in the Supreme from 12 months ago looking like top class form. He looked every inch the star when cruising to victory in the Contenders Hurdle at Sandown last time out on his return to hurdles and he is a genuine threat off of the back of that run.

Barry Geraghty was motionless as the horses cruised past Rayvin Black and although the form wasn't great on paper, sometimes you have to trust the eye.

The problem with Buveur D'Air is that he was only switched back to hurdles a few weeks ago having been in the middle of a novice chasing career, and that is always a worry. There is no doubt about his quality and he may be good enough to win an average Champion Hurdle, but the value has gone now at 7/2 with Bet Victor.

Yanworth will run in the same colours as Buveur D'Air and he is another fascinating contender to consider. Good enough to finish 2nd in the Neptune last season, it had been expected he would step up to 3m this season but with Unowhatimeanharry dominant in that division, JP McManus has understandably wanted to test his Champion Hurdle credentials.

Since being dropped in trip, Yanworth has won the Christmas Hurdle and then Kingwell at Wincanton, and he can do no more than get his head in front. On both occasions he has looked in trouble in-running but showed great heart to get up to claim two wins, and opinion is split on his chances next month.

There is no doubt that he will improve for a stronger gallop but should he be tapped for toe, will he be able to make up the ground if too far back?

Yanworth will be finishing strongly up the Cheltenham hill, but backing him at 4/1 at this stage is not my idea of a bet.

Petit Mouchoir (11/2) is the leading contender from Ireland and he has improved plenty this season for Henry De Bromhead. The likeable grey was a good novice but he has stepped up a level this term in open company having left Willie Mullins. 

He won the Ryanair Hurdle at Christmas, before adding the Irish Champion Hurdle and on form alone, he looks the best of the Irish brigade this term. The worry with him is whether or not those were two soft Grade 1 wins at this level, and the form up against the likes of Buveur D'Air and Yanworth does look a little flimsy.

Thanks, but not thanks.

Best of the Rest...

Willie Mullins may have lost Annie Power and Faugheen this season but he could still have a say in the race with Vroum Vroum Mag and Limini in the discussion.

At this stage, it appears as if Vroum Vroum is on her way to the Mares' race, which means Limini (13/2) could be the one for the Champion Hurdle. She travelled all over Apple's Jade before beating her recently which was hugely encouraging but even with 7lbs in her favour, you have to think she has plenty to find with the boys on her form of 2016.

Brain Power (8/1) is a top level handicapper which in a normal year wouldn't be anywhere near good enough to win a Champion Hurdle but this year could be slightly different. Nicky Henderson is keen to throw him in the deep end, and although he has plenty to find he is relatively lightly raced and could be one going the right way.

Tombstone (14/1) has been supplemented for the field after his recent win over Jezki but he will only be playing for place money at the very best, whilst The New One (14/1) will run a solid race again but is likely to be in midfield having missed his best chance.

Conclusion

This is a tough ask for punters at this stage with no stand out performer in the Champion Hurdle market. Of the fancied horses, it is Buveur D'Air who makes most appeal as the potential winner with his class and speed ahead of Yanworth and Petit Mouchoir.

The value from Buveur D'Air has gone at this stage though which means we are willing to take a chance on Brain Power at a bigger price.

Nicky Henderson would only be running this horse if he thought he had a chance, and given positive reports about him recently from Seven Barrows, he can run a big race. BRAIN POWER won his last handicap contest with some ease off of a mark of 149 and in a weak year, he could well be good enough to get in the mix at a fair price at Cheltenham

  • CHAMPION HURDLE SELECTION - Brain Power EW @ 8/1 with Paddy Power

Champion Hurdle Betting - Click to Bet

Buveur D'Air B J Geraghty / N J Henderson 11/4 5/2
Samcro 7/2 4/1
Laurina R Walsh / W P Mullins 5/1 5/1
Melon P Townend / W P Mullins 10/1 8/1
Summerville Boy 14/1 12/1
Apples Jade J W Kennedy / G Elliott 16/1 -
Supasundae 14/1 20/1
Min 20/1 -
Draconien 20/1 -
Getabird 40/1 14/1
We Have A Dream 25/1 20/1
Verdana Blue D N Russell / N J Henderson 25/1 -
Yorkhill 25/1 -
Farclas 40/1 25/1
If The Cap Fits 33/1 -
Faugheen 33/1 -
Kalashnikov 33/1 -
Saldier 33/1 -
Paloma Blue 40/1 -
Mick Jazz 33/1 -
Coquin Mans 33/1 -
Global Citizen D Bass / B Pauling 50/1 -
Labaik 40/1 -
Mengli Khan 40/1 -
Vision Des Flos 40/1 -
Apples Shakira 50/1 -
Mr Adjudicator 50/1 -
Brain Power Nico de Boinville / N J Henderson 50/1 -
Redicean 50/1 -
Mohaayed 50/1 -
Pearl Of The West 50/1 -
Sharjah Mr P W Mullins / W P Mullins 66/1 -
Charli Parcs - 66/1
Cliffs Of Dover 66/1 -
Silver Streak Adam Wedge / Evan Williams 66/1 -
Storm Rising 100/1 -
Golden Birthday 100/1 -
Each Way Terms 3
1/4
3
1/5

BEST ODDS
1. Buveur D'Air B J Geraghty / N J Henderson
11/4
3. Laurina R Walsh / W P Mullins
5/1
4. Melon P Townend / W P Mullins
10/1
6. Apples Jade J W Kennedy / G Elliott
16/1
12. Verdana Blue D N Russell / N J Henderson
25/1
22. Global Citizen D Bass / B Pauling
50/1
28. Brain Power Nico de Boinville / N J Henderson
50/1
32. Sharjah Mr P W Mullins / W P Mullins
66/1
35. Silver Streak Adam Wedge / Evan Williams
66/1
Odds correct as of 11th Apr, 12:53 . Odds are subject to change.
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