Bookmaker sees weakness in the leading Champion Hurdle contenders


Tagged under: 3.20 Stan James Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy (Grade 1)

A new two mile hurdle champion will emerge at Cheltenham festival on Tuesday following the withdrawal of last year’s Champion Hurdle winner Binocular, but there appears to be no clear cut candidate for the crown.

The betting market suggests in could be anyone’s race and Charlie McCann, spokesman for online bookmaker Victor Chandler, is certainly not fearful of any of the leading contenders.

Menorah, Hurricane Fly and Peddlers Cross contest favouritism with bookmakers and can be backed at around the 4/1 mark. McCann sees weakness in the claims of all three and is happy to take on punters against all three horses.

Philip Hobbs trains Menorah who comes into the race with two wins from two starts this term, including a 4-and-a-half length win against Supreme Novice favourite, Cue Card at Cheltenham in December. That run impressed many pundits and sparked a market move on Hobbs’s six-year-old for the Champion Hurdle, yet McCann is not so impressed: ”Menorah loves the track but it is possible that Cue Card was below his best in the International last time and Menorah will be the first horse since Granville Again to win the Champion Hurdle without a run in the year of the event,“ he said.

Willie Mullins has finally managed to get Hurricane Fly across the Irish Sea to make his Cheltenham Festival debut and with Ruby Walsh aboard carries the confidence of most of the Irish contingent. The seven-year-old has notched three Grade 1 victories this season yet McCann remains somewhat unconvinced, pointing out: ”Hurricane Fly is the most talented horse in the race but his sire's stats (0-44 at Cheltenham) are hardly encouraging.“

Unbeaten Peddlers Cross is trained by Donald McCain and many pundits feel the horse has the perfect blend of speed and stamina to measure up for the champion’s crown, but the voice of Victor Chandler has his doubts about the distance and hinted the new champion may be elsewhere among the field: ”Peddlers Cross is unbeaten but does he scream 2m to you? We'll be looking to take them all on,“ concluded McCann.

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