Mikael D'Haguenet: unbeaten over hurdles in Britain and IrelandPicture: Caroline Norris
Mikael D'Haguenet 12-1 for Champion Hurdle
CHAMPION novice hurdler Mikael D’Haguenet was on Saturday quoted at 12-1 for the Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle by William Hill, who inserted the Willie Mullins-trained star into their market on the Cheltenham Festival showpiece after enquiries from punters.
Mikael D’Haguenet has not been seen since adding a Grade 1 win at the Punchestown festival to his victory at Cheltenham in the Ballymore Properties Novices’ Hurdle, but had been fully expected to begin a chasing career, temporarily on hold by a splint problem.
He ended last season unbeaten in six runs over hurdles in Britain and Ireland and was crowned the best staying novice in last season’s Anglo-Irish classifications.
In an update last week, Mullins revealed that the six-year-old was back in exercise following therapy for a back ailment, but there had been no indication that a switch to the Champion Hurdle could be under consideration.
Mullins could not be contacted on Saturday, but Kate Miller, spokeswoman for William Hill, said: “We have received a number of requests for Mikael D’Haguenet to be added to the Champion Hurdle betting.
“The rumour mill appears to be in active, with the suggestion that he will eschew novice chasing this season in favour of a tilt at the Champion.”
The Champion Hurdle picture has been anything but clear this season, evidenced in the markets offering 5-1 the field.
At 12-1 Mikael D’Haguenet is bracketed in Hills’ market with
Punjabi, last season’s Champion Hurdle winner, and one of the
revelations of the season in Khyber Kim.
Plans for Relkeel Hurdle winner Zaynar were formulated on Saturday, when his trainer Nicky Henderson nominated a date at the next Sandown meeting for Ladbrokes’ 5-1 Champion Hurdle favourite.
The Totesport-sponsored Contenders Hurdle, formerly the Agfa Hurdle, on February 6 is pencilled in for last year’s Triumph