Nick Wilby takes a look at the 2010 Champion Hurdle. (credit: Carine06)
Nick Wilby takes a look at the 2010 Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle.
3.20 – Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle
2m – Grade 1
One of the highlights of the week undoubtedly comes on the first day and punters will need no reminding that this year’s Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle looks set to be an absolute thriller. Bonus-hunting Irish raider Go Native (7/2, William Hill) heads the betting and last year’s leading novice arrives at jumping HQ in the form of his life. His supporters will be brimming with confidence and his impressive turn of foot puts him high on the list, however the form of his victory in the Christmas Hurdle does not look anything special and he is taken on with KHYBER KIM (8/1, Paddy Power), Nigel Twiston-Davies’ quirky but talented International Hurdle winner.
A chequered and frustrating career seems to have fallen into place this year and two runs and two victories at Cheltenham puts him right in the mix. Having accounted for some of this season’s leading contenders at the end of last year, it is clear that the horse thoroughly enjoys Cheltenham’s surging circuit and the course’s uphill finish is evidently not a problem. He is currently in danger of becoming the forgotten horse of the race and it is easy to forget that he was actually a better horse on the flat than most of his Champion Hurdle opposition, hitting an overall rating of 106. His connections are noticeably bullish about his chances and as a horse that goes best fresh, he has been kept off the course since his emphatic victory in the International Hurdle. He only needs to improve a little to win again and he is a confident selection.
Solwhit (6/1, Bet365) and Binocular (8/1, Ladbrokes) take their chances after two weeks of will he or won’t he and it makes much more sense to side with the former who would have been a warm favourite for the race had he not suffered a setback last week. Binocular looks a shadow of the horse that finished third in this last year and Celestial Halo (10/1, Ladbrokes) and stablemate Punjabi (7/1, Blue Square) should confirm their 2009 Champion Hurdle superiority over Nicky Henderson’s charge.
Nick Wilby's selection - Khyber Kim (8/1, Paddy Power)
William Hill are offering their customers a free £25 bet on the 2010 Cheltenham Festival, enter bonus code F25 when signing up here.