Hurricane Fly last won the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham in 2011PICTURE: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images
Fly consolidates position as Champion favourite
AN EASY victory for Hurricane Fly in Sunday's Irish Champion Hurdle has seen him solidify his position at the head of the betting for the Cheltenham equivalent, and the 2011 winner is now a best-priced 3-1 chance to regain his crown.
A general 7-2 shot for the Stan James-sponsored day one highlight before his five-length success at odds of 1-6, the nine-year-old was cut across the board with the majority of bookmakers split between 5-2 and 11-4. Coral offer the standout 3-1, while William Hill went shortest at 9-4.
Hurricane Fly was described as "back to his very best" by trainer Willie Mullins after the race and those sentiments were echoed by fellow trainer Charlie Swan, who won the Champion Hurdle three times as a jockey on Istabraq.
Speaking in the Racing Post's Monday Jury, Swan said: "Hurricane Fly won the way most people thought he would. He looked very good and seems back to his best. He'll have a big chance of regaining the Champion Hurdle if in the same form.
"One note of caution is he won the Irish Champion very easily last year but came up short at Cheltenham. Darlan and some of the other younger pretenders will put it up to him but he's in pole position."
Despite defeat, bookmakers were happy to leave the vanquished Binocular, who won the Champion Hurdle the year before Hurricaner Fly, at 20-1.
The other major Festival mover was Grade 2 novice hurdle winner Pont Alexandre, who halved in price to 7-2 after a similarly authoritative performance. So impressed was trainer Willie Mullins, he said: "He looks to be one of the best novice hurdlers we've had, apart maybe from Hurricane Fly."
Charlie Swan, Aidan Coleman and Ian Renton join our experts to discuss a blockbuster weekend of racing in the this week's Jury, only in Monday's Racing Post.