Tote Win: £3.40 Tote Place: £1.50,1.80,2.50
Straight Forecast: £14.69 Exacta: £16.10 Trifecta: £66.50 Swingers: 1&2:2.80 2&3:5.10 1&3:4.50
Jackpot: £142,083.50, Pool: £200117.69, 1.0 winning tickets
Placepot: £60.60, Pool: £970517.56, 11686.68 winning tickets
Quadpot: £9.30, Pool: £40783.77, 3221.34 winning tickets
A wonderful performance from HURRICANE FLY, as he shrugged side the 'Montjeu' stat, the 'course form' stat and any other stat that the doubters could throw at him. A bit unsettled in the preliminaries, he had sweated up by the time that they had got to the start, and was then keen in the race. That didn't affect his jumping however, as in a field of great hurdlers, he jumped as well as any rival. Held up off just a moderate gallop set by Overturn, Ruby Walsh was still taking a pull on him coming to the second last. As Peddlers Cross, Menorah and Oscar Whisky tried to tough it out, the winner was yet to be asked for his effort, and when asked to jump to the front over the last, he produced a flying leap. To his credit Peddlers Cross battled back, however the winner was always holding his renewed challenge at bay. Tactics were always going to be key, and there are some interesting comparisons to be made with the Supreme Novices' Hurdle run over the same course and distance. Not only was the time in the Champion slower, but there was no concerted effort from Graham Lee on Overturn to stretch the field and whether by accident or design that probably didn't aid the cause of his stablemate Peddlers Cross. The winner however probably would have coped, and indeed he may have settled better off a stronger pace, so its probably irrelevant. Third home was Oscar Whisky, who ran his heart out. Never too far off the pace, he jumped level with Peddlers Cross two hurdles out and he ran on well to the line. He would definitely have preferred a strong pace over this trip, and it will be interesting to see whether Nicky Henderson steps him back up in trip in the future. However barring the World Hurdle, the more valuable races lie over this trip and the temptation may be to keep him to this distance. Menorah travelled well for a long way, and he lost no ground by hugging the rail all the way round. He looked a picture before the race, but having jumped closer six hurdles from home, he was then one of the first of the leading protagonists to come under pressure. He still held every chance turning in, but just flattened out in the closing two furlongs and was eventually pipped for fourth by Thousand Stars. Mullins' second string ran a blinder, especially as the slow pace was against this confirmed hold-up performer. He swung wide off the final turn but jumped the last two hurdles with plenty of zest and may even have snatched a place in another 50 yards. He's just short of this level, but the level of improvement that he has shown since joining Mullins is truly remarkable. Clerk's Choice ran a career-best a couple of lengths further back in sixth, especially as he hit the last flight quite hard, whilst there was a decent gap back to Overturn who appeared out of his depth. He was quickly swallowed up running down the hill despite having had an easy lead. Dunguib ran a strange race; he was reined back around half-way by his jockey and was a little hampered at three out, but he made no impression on the leaders and was bitterly disappointing. Khyber Kim tried to make ground on the outside three out but was soon brushed aside. He may not have been at his best and is not discounted if turning up at Aintree next month. The other disappointment was Mille Chief, who, like Dunguib, never threatened to get into the race from off the pace. In truth, this race was hugely weakened by the absence of reigning champion Binocular, but it is hard to take anything away from Hurricane Fly. He has oodles of class, has proven himself throughout Europe, and will be near impossible to beat at Punchestown. However if Binocular makes it there, then it will be one heck of a battle between two great champions.