The 2013 Champion Hurdle is still a number of months away but the market for the Grade One showpiece is already taking shape.
The Cheltenham Festival feature remains one of the highlights on the racing calendar and it’s the most sought –after prize in the National Hunt’s hurdling division. Each year thousands of racing fanatics flock through the gates at Cheltenham to see the two-mile war and they rarely leave disappointed.
The race’s roll of honour stretches longer than the famous Cheltenham track itself and Irish raider Hurricane Fly will be looking to bounce back and regain his Champion hurdle crown.
Willie Mullins’ multiple Grade One-winning superstar was an emphatic winner of the race in 2011, but failed to justify cramped odds in the contest last year when he finished behind Rock On Ruby in a pulsating climax to the showpiece.
They look certain to renew rivalries in March 2013, but there are a whole host of other hurdlers set to line up and Nicky Henderson will be aiming a number of his stable flagbearers at the race.
Henderson’s Spirit Son was forced to miss last season through injury, but the 2010 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle runner-up has always been held in the highest regard by his masterful trainer and he will be aimed at the race along with his equally talented stablemate Grandouet.
Paul Nicholls will be chasing back-to-back Champion Hurdle victories and he will keep the faith with the impeccably well-bred Zarkandar who lost his unbeaten record in a mixed season in 2011/12.
Other market principals Grumeti, 2010 hero Binocular and Cinders And Ashes also continue to attract plenty of support for the Festival’s opening day highlight and ante post punters will already be taking aim at the race.