Irish Champion Hurdle Preview

Who can beat the 'Fly this winter?

Who can beat the 'Fly'?

Irish Champion Hurdle Preview

The feature race from Ireland on Sunday is the BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle, a Grade 1, run at Leopardstown and due off at 2.35.

Although there are only four runners, each of quartet is a multiple Grade 1 winner, and three have won at the Cheltenham Festival, with the other a close third there. Indeed, the quartet can boast 26 Grade 1 victories between them! Whilst that is of course skewed by Hurricane Fly's record eighteen Grade 1 successes, the remaining trio's return of eight collective top pots cannot be crabbed.

As well as the odds-on favourite, Hurricane Fly, there are two other Champion Hurdle contenders currently quoted at single figure prices for the Cheltenham showpiece in opposition. Jezki and Our Conor are both a top priced 8/1 to win the Blue Riband in March, and either will surely have to lower the Fly's colours to have a serious chance of replicating the feat six weeks hence.

Captain Cee Bee completes the group and he may be in here to help Jezki from a pace perspective, despite having been a fine warrior in his younger days. Now aged thirteen, it's hard to see him being even nearly fast enough to beat all of the other three, and he is readily discounted from projections.

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Hurricane Fly is one of THE stars of the winter game, and has been for a number of years now. Winner of the Champion Hurdle in 2011 and 2013 - and arguably given far too much to do in 2012 when third - the Fly is also unbeaten at Leopardstown in seven starts. Now a ten-year-old he is clearly not getting any quicker, and his first run of the season was a laboured verdict over 138-rated stablemate, Marito. When you consider that Our Conor and Jezki are both rated in the 160's, Hurricane Fly will clearly have to step up on that effort.

Luckily for Fly fans, he has already shown more lustre than on that seasonal bow when beating four rivals - including all three of today's re-opposing runners - in the Ryanair Hurdle at Christmas. The margins there were two and a half lengths back to Jezki and a further three and a quarter back to Our Conor, with Captain Cee Bee another four lengths away in fourth.

On that form, there is no obvious reason why Jezki should finish in front of Hurricane Fly, but Our Conor is entitled to come on a good bit for his first hurdles start since last March. He has nigh on six lengths to find with Hurricane Fly but just three to match Jezki.

The tactics on Sunday look like being exactly the same as at the end of December, with Captain Cee Bee cutting out the spadework for Jezki and, in so doing, setting things up nicely for Conor and the Fly, both of whom are happy enough off a swinging gallop. In truth, there's every chance of this race being a carbon copy of the Ryanair Hurdle and, in that context, Hurricane Fly is the one to beat. Unfortunately, his price of 4/7 reflects that.

There are however two ways to improve on those skinny odds.

1. Play a forecast with Our Conor in second, as he's expected to strip a lot fitter than four weeks ago.

2. Open a new account with Paddy Power and take advantage of their massive 3/1 offer. (Conditions apply)



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14 replies
  1. martin
    martin says:

    just a word of caution HF put in a disappointing piece of work in the week and it turned out he had a bruised foot, he is supposed to be fine now but is drifting in the market and I wouldn’t want to be taking a short price about him. martin

    • Matt Bisogno
      Matt Bisogno says:

      It’s well touted that he bruised his foot earlier in the week, Martin, the reason for the sub-par work. It hasn’t changed his price more than 0.1 on Betfair, so to say he’s drifting is wide of the mark, I’d suggest. Nevertheless, it is valid to flag that, so thank you.


  2. Mugpunter
    Mugpunter says:

    Paddy Power didn’t get rich by giving money away. If they are offering 3/1 on HF then they know something. If I was a layer then I would stand HF all day long tomorrow. I could have egg all over my face come tomorrow, but the old adage that if something looks too good to be true then it usually is applied particularly in this case.


    • Matt Bisogno
      Matt Bisogno says:


      It’s what’s called a loss leader. They expect to get filled in on this offer, and I’d imagine they will. But they want people to have accounts with them before Cheltenham Festival, when they’ll be competing with all the other bookies for our attentions.

      3/1 about a 4/7 shot is NEVER EVER a bad thing. Even if the 4/7 shot should be 5/2 – which it no way should be – it’s still great value. Anyone who can’t see that… well, they don’t have a value eye, let’s say that. 😉


    • minnieminx
      minnieminx says:


      Agreed. Compare HF with yesterday’s ‘big bet’: Big Buck’s. Long unbeaten run? Check. Heavy favourite? Check. One bookie crafty snaffling loads of dosh by offering high odds? Check. Result: Unplaced Favourite.

      I’m not suggesting for one second that PP expects to clean up here, but I’m not touching this race with any kind of long bargepole.

      • Matt Bisogno
        Matt Bisogno says:

        Like I said, minnieminx, you either ‘get’ value, or you don’t. Taking 6/4 about a 6/5 shot is ALWAYS a value play. Obviously, massively more so when it’s 3/1 about a 4/6 shot.

        It’s a bet I’d take all day long if I could. I already have a Paddy account, so can’t.

        Think about it: in a coin toss, evens is the right price for either side. If you could get 5/4 you should take it. If you could get 3/1, you should definitely take it!

        That’s value. I can’t teach that to people who refuse to listen. 🙁


        • minnieminx
          minnieminx says:

          I said nothing about value. On the face of it, the PP offer price is outstanding value, I agree with you there. BUT (and this is a big but), even if I didn’t already have a PP account I still wouldn’t touch it with a bargepole – unless I was going to arb it elsewhere. I don’t want to speculate on why Coral cleaned up with Big Buck’s yesterday, but I can’t shake the feeling that something similar will happen with HF today. Whether it’s the bruised foot ‘scare’ issue or something else, this bet just doesn’t feel right today.

          • Matt Bisogno
            Matt Bisogno says:

            I’m happy to report that plenty of people disagreed with you, and either backed HF at juicy odds or played the forecast with Our Conor finishing second.

            Gift horses should not be looked in the mouth 🙂


  3. JanSmuts
    JanSmuts says:

    HF is the fly in the ointment for me today (no pun intended). He should win however the bruised foot scare is a concern for me, so I’ve taken him out of the equation and gone for Our Conor in the betting WO market.

  4. Albert
    Albert says:

    Altough Our Connor should come on we must remember that this horse had had a run on the flat not too long ago so wasnt completely short of work.

  5. Neil
    Neil says:

    Hurricane Fly is one of the best ever, and certainly goes there with an odds on chance, but he ain’t getting any younger, I expect him to win, but I do like Jezki and think AP may run him from the front today after the last race to try and make more use of his stamina. If he gets an easy lead could be interesting

  6. Bestscp
    Bestscp says:

    I know betting should be emotionless, but with HF I can’t.
    He is a superstar and a punters favorite…….you bet, take a seat,watch the race and go to collect your money.
    He is my favorite horse and I’m never betting against him.
    Good luck and have fun!!!!

  7. Griff
    Griff says:

    Take the 3/1 offer & then lay him on the Exchanges at around Evens, win win situation isn’t it?

  8. denismcgrath
    denismcgrath says:

    7/1 was the bet of the year on Hurricane going in in March follow by Annie Power in the World HURDLE this mare will win Willie sending over a Battalion so ignore at your Peril

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