A third Champion Hurdle and a 20th Grade 1 victory for Hurricane Fly certainly can't be ruled out as the 10-year-old, aiming to become the oldest winner of the race since Sea Pigeon in 1981, has looked as good as ever this season. He found a fine turn of foot to hold off Our Conor in the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown in January when Captain Cee Bee and Jezki were third and fourth but improvement is expected from the latter today in a hood and the runner-up has had this as his aim all season. He was hugely impressive when running away with the Triumph Hurdle here last year but five-year-olds normally have to be something extra special to win this and his time may come in the years ahead. A lack of maturity might also count against Ptit Zig while Grumeti and Melodic Rendezvous were firmly put in their place by My Tent Or Yours in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle in November. The latter, just beaten in last year's Supreme Novices', has improved again this season and got the better of THE NEW ONE in a terrific tussle for the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton but the latter's trainer, Nigel Twiston-Davies, is adamant his charge would have won had he not dived at the last and will be better suited by Cheltenham, where he has already won four times. Providing there is a decent gallop and he puts in an error-free round, the six-year-old could just out-last his rivals up the hill.
Captain Cee Bee (IRE) 50-1 (11-10) Led, reduced lead from before 2 out, headed before last where dropped to 3rd, kept on same pace run-in, 3rd of 4, 2 3/4l behind Hurricane Fly (11-10) at Leopardstown 2m hdl G1 (1) in Jan.
Grumeti 7-1 (11-2) Held up in last pair, headway to track leaders 3 out, went 2nd 2 out, no impression when dropped to 3rd approaching last, 3rd of 6, 7l behind Melodic Rendezvous (11-10) at Wincanton 2m hdl G2 (1) hvy in Feb.
Hurricane Fly (IRE) 4-7fav (11-10) Chased leader in 2nd, closed from before 2 out, ridden to lead before last where marginally headed when slight mistake, led again and stayed on well run-in, won at Leopardstown 2m hdl G1 (1) in Jan beating Our Conor (11-8) by 1 1/2l, 4 ran.
Jezki (IRE) 3-1 (11-10) Held up in rear, took keen hold, took closer order approaching 2 out, ridden along on outer into straight, kept on same pace under pressure from before last, last of 4, 3 1/2l behind Hurricane Fly (11-10) at Leopardstown 2m hdl G1 (1) in Jan.
Melodic Rendezvous Evensfav (11-10) Tracked leaders, went 2nd approaching last, challenging when not much room and squeezed through to challenge flat, led and bumped 2nd final 100 yards, driven out, won at Wincanton 2m hdl G2 (1) hvy in Feb beating Zarkandar (11-10) by 1/2l, 6 ran.
My Tent Or Yours (IRE) 1-5fav (11-2) Took keen hold and held up off the pace towards rear, smooth headway tracking leaders over 4f out, went 2nd on bit over 3f out, led over 2f out, came readily clear final 2f, easily, won at Kempton 2m n h flat (3) std in Feb beating Ranjaan (10-11) by 4 1/2l, 13 ran.
Our Conor (IRE) 5-1 (11-8) Raced in 3rd, closer order from before 2 out, travelling smoothly from before straight, gained slight lead last, headed and kept on without matching winner run-in, 2nd of 4, 1 1/2l behind Hurricane Fly (11-10) at Leopardstown 2m hdl G1 (1) in Jan.
Ptit Zig (FR) Evensfav (11-12) Tracked leader, left in lead 4 out, pressed and jumped right last, headed run-in, kept on and held by winner, 2nd of 6, 4 1/2l behind Melodic Rendezvous (11-8) at Haydock 2m hdl G2 (1) hvy in Jan.
The New One (IRE) 5-6fav (11-7) Tracked leader, led 3 out, quickened after next, blundered last, headed closing stages, no extra, 2nd of 6, 1/2l behind My Tent Or Yours (11-7) at Kempton 2m hdl G1 (1) sft in Dec.