Take the 9/4?
Hurricane Fly is now a best priced 9/4 with bookmakers to reclaim his title in the 2012 Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. The big question is whether or not this is a price that us punters should be smashing into given the fact that the talented hurdler has had well documented injury problems over the past few years. A general 2/1 shot with most bookmakers and as short as 7/4 with Bet365, I’ll aim to assess if now is a good time to back the Irish raider for a repeat performance of his 2011 Champion Hurdle heroics.
Hurricane Fly – Oh so special
What is so special about Hurricane Fly anyway? For those of you that don’t know the full story, the hero of the 2011 Champion Hurdle has won on each of his last six outings, including an extremely impressive five consecutive victories in grade 1 company between 2010 and 2011.
So why are there question marks over the Irish champion’s ability to retain his crown? The short answer is pretty simple: Hurricane Fly has not appeared on a race course since May 2011 and may well head to the Champion Hurdle in 2012 without a prep race to dust off the cobwebs.
Willy Mullins, trainer of Hurricane Fly, spoke earlier this month and outlined that the next possible prep race will be the grade 1 Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown on the 29th of January. This is one of the recognised trial races for the big event in March and is a race that Hurricane Fly won in 2011 as a 7 year old before going on to prosper in the 2011 Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Betting on Hurricane Fly?
For those of you looking at an ante post bet on Hurricane Fly, yes, he may go off for the 2012 Champion Hurdle at a much shorter price than 9/4 or even 2/1. But…we are talking about a horse with a background that has been blighted by numerous injuries, most notably when the Irish prospect was well backed for the 2009 Supreme Novices Hurdle and also the 2010 Champion Hurdle. In both cases, Hurricane Fly did not make it to the Cheltenham Festival due to injury.
You may also be conscious that for whatever reason, Hurricane Fly has also missed a number of possible opportunities in 2011 to build on his tally of 9 hurdling victories in grade 1 company.
I will not personally be betting at the current odds of 2/1, though I do believe that Hurricane Fly could very well cruise to victory in the Irish Champion Hurdle and be cut for glory at the Cheltenham equivalent in March. 3 months is a long time in racing, so even though Mullins claims his superstar was as good as ever in a vigorous gallop at Leopardstown a couple of weeks ago, I am not convinced that betting at odds of 9/4 or 2/1 makes much sense at present.