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2014 Champion Hurdle tips - Hurricane Fly a formidable force in vintage renewal

Nick takes a look at the 2014 Champion Hurdle and gives his expert tips on Tuesday's feature.

All eyes will be on the opening day of the Festival and the race of the meeting – the 2014 Champion Hurdle.  A vintage crop of hurdlers look set to go to post for the contest and race fans are sure to be treated to one of the most exciting renewals of the race for years.

Record breaking superstar HURRICANE FLY continues to divide opinion in the build up to the contest but Willie Mullins’ stable flagbearer can silence his critics once again with a scintillating display at Prestbury Park.

The French import will be looking to create history by becoming one of the few horses to win the race on three separate occasions and he’ll be looking to become one of only three horses to have won the race as a ten-year-old.  It certainly looks like one of the toughest renewals of the race for some time, but hurdlers of Hurricane Fly’s class are few and far between and a comprehensive success at Cheltenham can confirm his position as Ireland’s greatest ever hurdler.

He is certainly the best of his generation and nineteen Grade One victories, with only three defeats in his whole career, is a record likely to strike fear into his Champion Hurdle rivals.  This season’s successes in the Morgiana Hurdle, Ryanair Hurdle and Irish Champion Hurdle have all confirmed that the Hurricane remains at his remarkable best and there has been plenty to like about his path to the Festival.

The argument has always been that we learn very little from Hurricane Fly’s victories in Ireland and although he has not been winning this campaign’s contests with quite as much panache, he has been beating top class opposition.  

Much has been made about the emergence of a new, younger crop of Champion Hurdlers, but Hurricane Fly has already beaten Our Conor and Jezki  on two occasions and his latest performance was a truly impressive display.

The Fly was forced to battle to the line with the exciting Our Conor pressing him all the way, but Ruby Walsh found more in the saddle and the superstar ended up winning going away.  It was the perfect trial for his Champion Hurdle defence and followers of the horse will be thrilled to have seen him out-battle his rivals.

Layers of the horse will be hoping that Christmas Hurdle first and second My Tent Or Yours and The New One will be able to serve it up to the champion, but it’s difficult to see anything beating Hurricane Fly when he is at his best.

Mullins and Walsh are confident that the horse is better than ever and the confidence behind the Irish raider is truly infectious.  Few are as reliable as Mullins when it comes to getting their horses to peak at the right time and Walsh continues to promise a breathtaking display at Cheltenham aboard his mount.

Much will be made about the tactics in this year’s Champion Hurdle but Hurricane Fly has the ability to handle anything that comes his way.  He has the gears and cruising speed to work at any pace and anticipated ground is sure to play to his considerable strengths.

The ultra-talented star’s supporters have every right to be full of confidence ahead of his fourth trip to the Festival and he looks to be the best bet of the entire meeting.

Nick Wilby’s selection – HURRICANE FLY (NAP) 

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2014 Champion Hurdle tips - Hurricane Fly a formidable force in vintage renewal

Nick takes a look at the 2014 Champion Hurdle and gives his expert tips on Tuesday's feature.

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