Cheltenham Festival 2013: Stan James Champion Hurdle

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Crockford considers if Hurricane Fly is a Dead Cert for the Stan James Champion Hurdle

If Hurricane Fly can win the Stan James Champion Hurdle tomorrow he will be the first horse to regain the hurdling crown having lost it  since Comedy Of Errors in the 1975. Impressive in all three wins this season including his last outing at Leopardstown, where he had one of tomorrow’s rivals Binocular back behind him in third, he is many punters idea of the winner. Connections feel that this year he is a different horse from the horse that finished third in last year’s race behind Rock On Ruby. As Patrick Mullins told ATR the yard will be “very disappointed if he can’t win”. But what about his rivals, Crockford considers if it is that certain?

Crockford’s assessment of the runners (Prices at 8pm on www.stanjames.com)

Balder Success (80/1) - Outclassed by this field  he has not been overly impressive in handicap company this year. Worthy of his long odds

Binocular (9/1) -  Former winner and not beyond providing a surprise to punters. With the ground the way it is and having been soundly defeated last time out (even if he needed the run) his chance seems to have gone

Cinders and Ashes (14/1) - Unable to show the form this year that made him a Festival winner last season. With the ground coming up soft and tacky tomorrow his chances have turned to ashes.

Countrywide Flame (16/1) - Impressive when winning at Newcastle first time out this season, the way the race developed at Kempton at Christmas did not suit him, but was not good enough last time out to win either

Grandouet (8/1) – Connections would have preferred to have another run before this race, but he equipped himself well in the Stan James International at Cheltenham on his seasonal reappearance against rivals he meets again today (Zarkandar and Rock On Ruby)

Hurricane Fly (9/4) 2011 winner and unbeaten this season. Connections are bullish about his chances. He looks the one to beat if back to his imperious best

Khyber Kim (40/1) - Great come back run after a long period off the track. He just faded when finishing second behind Zarkandar at Wincanton and looks like he may come on from that. Each way claims at a massive price.

Rock On Ruby (9/2) - 2012 winner and back to winning ways at Doncaster when Darlan was fatally injured, he looks certain to be in the frame and one of the main contenders

Zarkandar (7/2) - Unbeaten this season and having the majority of his rivals finish behind him this year. He makes Crockford’s short-list but he did disappoint last year

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Will Grandouet feature in the finish?

Crockford’s Prediction for first three in the Stan James Champion Hurdle

1 Hurricane Fly (Dead Cert)

2 Rock On Ruby

3 Grandouet

With the confidence from the Mullins yard Hurricane Fly has to be a Dead Cert to regain his crown.

 

(Featured Photograph – Zarkandar at Cheltenham by Stuart Rice)

(Photograph – Grandouet at Cheltenham by Stuart Rice)