2012 StanJames Champion Hurdle Ante Post Preview

Stan James

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

The Champion Hurdle is usually contested by horses that have performed well in the race before, alongside a number of the previous seasons' leading novices. The 2012 renewal has a strange look to it in that, with the exception of current champion Hurricane Fly and the seventh home Overturn, the field is unlikely to include any of the other horses who competed for the 2011 contest.

The likes of Oscar Whisky and Thousand Stars are being campaigned with the World Hurdle in mind, while runner-up Peddlers Cross and Menorah have already been sent over the bigger obstacles.

Hurricane Fly looked in a league of his own last season, and if the 7 year-old makes it to the festival in one piece, is certain to go off a very warm favourite. Scratched from November's Morgiana Hurdle after failing to please trainer Willie Mullins, the son of Montjeu's current odds of 9-4 ( best price with the sponsor , stan James ) make little appeal however, with connections in less bullish mood than at this stage last season.

Last season saw some very promising novices, the best of which appeared to be Triumph Hurdle victor Zarkandar and impressive Aintree winner Spirit Son. Both are available at odds of 10-1 and although they could both turn out to be leading contenders, a watching brief is advised at present.

Rock on Ruby was mightily impressive when winning Newbury's Gerry Feilden Hurdle under a big weight last month, and the form of the race received a massive boost when the third home Raya Star went on to win the ultra-competitive Ladbroke Hurdle recently.

Rock on Ruby's current odds of 16-1 may look generous but Paul Nicholl's 6 year-old finished over twenty lengths behing Spirit Son last season, and would need to have improved out of all recognition to gain revenge.

The Nicky Henderson stable has a wealth of hurdling talent this season and his Grandouet has improved enormously since the last festival, but with his odds no bigger than 7-1 the value has now disappeared.

With several Champion Hurdle trial races taking place over the holiday period the betting is sure to be shaken up, and therefore, the value bet at this stage is the 16-1 on offer with Boylesports and StanJames about 2010 Champion, Binocular.

Sure to come on for his run in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle, the talented but enigmatic gelding should win Kempton's Christmas Hurdle, putting him bang in the mix in an effort to regain his hurdling crown next March.

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