Crockford considers if the red hot favourite Faugheen “the machine’ can win the Stan James Champion Hurdle 2015
With a tally of facile wins under his belt the red hot favourite for the Stan James Champion Hurdle Faugheen has been labelled a machine by his admirers. Chosen by Ruby Walsh over the former champion Hurricane Fly his supporters have become ever more confident of victory.
However, it may not be that straightforward when the young pretender to the hurdling throne faces the likes of his stablemate, The New One and Jezki in the feature on the first day of the Festival.
Artic Fire – The third of the string of the Mullins horses. He has improved all season and is a worthy entrant but only has place prospects at best.
Bertimont – Talented on his day but will have to improve a lot to be anywhere near contention in this field. Beaten twice already this season by The New One.
Faugheen – Unbeaten in all of his starts including a win in the Neptune at the Festival twelve months ago. The stable jockey has chosen this young pretender over a proven Champion. Highly regarded but question marks remain in terms of the form of his races and how he will behalf if brought off the bridle.
Hurricane Fly – This record-breaking Champion deserves more respect than many credit him with. Connections believe it to be a close match between him and Faugheen. With rain falling he may just have the conditions that he craves.
Jezki – Last year’s winner has been defeated three times this season by Hurricane Fly, but may just be closer now back at Cheltenham. Will not be far away at the finish.
Kitten Rock – Worthy of his place in this quality field. This five-year-old is improving but likely to be out of his depth at this grade.
The New One – Posted four wins this winter, with the last looking more workman-like than usual. Finished fast up the hill in 2014, but might just find a couple to good for him again.
Vaniteux – Highly regarded by connections but could only muster three seconds this season. Not Henderson’s best chance of a winner this week.
Crockford’s Stan James Champion Hurdle prediction:
1 HURRICANE FLY
The old Champion to have one last hurrah at the Festival showing his has still got enough to beat his old rival Jezki and the young pretender Faugheen
(Featured Photograph – Faugheen at Cheltenham 2014 by Stuart Rice)