Today's racecards

Cheltenham

  • 15:20 Stan James Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy 2m 110y

  • Winner £227,800 2nd £85,480 3rd £42,800 4th £21,320
  • Going: Soft (Good to Soft in places; Cross Country: Soft)
  • Surface: Turf

Result

  • Weighed In

  • Winning time: 3m 59.10s
  • Off time: 16:00:39
15:20 Cheltenham Racecards
No Draw Dist
1st Hurricane Fly (IRE) 13/8
2nd Rock On Ruby (IRE) 11/2
3rd Countrywide Flame 16/1

Racecard

No Form Silk Horse A Wgt Trainer Jockey OR SP
1 U-31083 Red, Emerald Green disc, Emerald Green sleeves, Red stars Balder Succes (FR) 24
Nag meDistance Winner
5 11-10 A King W Hutchinson 149 100/1101.00
2 32114-3 Emerald green, yellow hoops, white cap Binocular (FR) 44
Nag meDistance WinnerCourse and Distance Winner
9 11-10 N J Henderson A P McCoy 167 10/111.00
3 1111-25 Black, emerald green chevrons on sleeves Cinders And Ashes 76
Nag meDistance WinnerCourse and Distance Winner
6 11-10 D McCain Jnr J M Maguire 151 16/117.00
4 312-142 Dark blue, white chevron, white and dark blue striped sleeves Countrywide Flame 36
Nag meDistance WinnerCourse and Distance Winner
5 11-10 J J Quinn D F O'Regan 158 16/117.00
5 B/1F11-2 Emerald Green, Dark Green sleeves, Dark Green and Emerald Green quartered cap Grandouet (FR) 87
Nag meDistance WinnerCourse and Distance Winner
6 11-10 N J Henderson B J Geraghty 166 13/27.50
6 131-111 Royal blue, emerald green triple diamond and diamonds on cap Hurricane Fly (IRE) 44
Nag meDistance WinnerCourse and Distance Winner
9 11-10 W P Mullins R Walsh 172 13/82.62
7 21496/2 Red, Royal Blue chevrons, armlets and star on cap Khyber Kim 24
Nag meDistance WinnerCourse and Distance Winner
11 11-10 N J Henderson P J Brennan 147 50/151.00
8 1213-31 Dark Green, White cross belts, Light Green sleeves, Dark Green and White hooped cap Rock On Ruby (IRE) 36
Nag meDistance WinnerCourse and Distance Winner
8 11-10 bt H Fry N Fehily 170 11/26.50
9 15F-111 Pink, large Purple spots, hooped sleeves Zarkandar (IRE) 24
Nag meDistance WinnerCourse and Distance Winner
6 11-10 P F Nicholls D A Jacob 167 7/24.50

Verdict

Age and history looks to be against Hurricane Fly and the 2011 winner may struggle to regain his crown. He's only won three weak Grade 1s in Ireland this season and his overall performances certainly aren't reflected in his short odds given his market rivals have shown form that is at least on a par with Willie Mullins' nine-year-old. Cinders And Ashes, last season's Supreme Novices' Hurdle winner, would have been interesting had the ground been good or better but he's twice finished behind last year's Triumph Hurdle winner Countrywide Flame on heavy ground this season and the latter was well beaten by Rock On Ruby at Doncaster last month. The defending champion has been lightly raced this term and will have needed the run when third behind ZARKANDAR and Grandouet in a Grade 2 here in December. He was giving 4lb to the winner but so was the runner-up, who has obviously been aimed at this all season and should confirm the form. But we are going to stick with the Nicholls gelding, who underlined his potential when easily beating Khyber Kim and Balder Succes in the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton. He's bettered Grandouet on the three previous occasions they've met and is much stronger now than when only fifth last year. Former champion Binocular may not be quite good enough at this level nowadays.