Cheltenham Festival: Hurricane force to blow again

Cheltenham Festival: Hurricane force to blow again

REGULAR readers of this column will know I’ve always been a big fan of Hurricane Fly.

So I’ve been listening to the debate ahead of today’s Champion Hurdle and it’s amazing to hear his few detractors build a case against him: ‘His best form is in Ireland,’ they say. Yet when he comes to England, Willie Mullins has successfully primed him again and again.

Take the third placing behind Rock on Ruby in the 2012 running of the event out of it, and he has 19 Grade One victories on the credit side of the balance sheet.

I think back to a few weeks ago watching Hurricane Fly win the Champion Hurdle in Leopardstown.

Ahead of that race there was so much talk about Our Conor, but when it was put up to him in the final furlong, Hurricane Fly responded by pulling away as he crossed the line.

With the ground drying I expect it to be a true run race and while I feel Jezki offers value, I don’t expect Hurricane Fly to be beaten.

The other horses I would love to be on this coming Festival are either Trifolium or Rock on Ruby in the Arkle and Silviniaco Conti in the Gold Cup.

I think the Paul Nicholls-trained Conti is battle-hardened now and with Cue Card ruled out, his chances have been further boosted. There is no doubting the quality of Bobs Worth but I just don’t see him winning back the Gold Cup.

If you do want value then I’d be looking at the Giant Bolster each-way in the blue ribband event. He’s an out and out stayer, has a quality trainer and I can see him coming through horses when the race is in the fire.

I expect to see action on some of Tony Coyle’s entries and am excited about the prospect of riding Son of Flicka in the Coral Cup — a race the horse won in 2012.

I’ve a bit of experience riding at the Festival now and I’ve learned that when you are on a good horse, just let the race come to you. I used to get nervous at the start; the noise of the crowd, the atmosphere, going over instructions from trainers.

But if you are on a good horse then you find your rhythm after a few jumps and it’s better to be coming through horses. Hopefully I get a chance and like every year, I’m going to enjoy it.

If you do want a novelty bet then you’d get a decent price on Daryl Jacob being top jockey. You won’t get any price on Ruby but Daryl has a string book of rides for Paul Nicholls and a bit of luck could see him in contention.

Check out The Irish Post website daily this week for Irish Post Sport's betting columnist Karl Hedley's best bets of the day.