2012 Champion Hurdle latest odds, news and free bets

There was a big question mark over Hurricane Fly going into the Champion Hurdle at the 2011 Cheltenham Festival, with the Irish raider having never raced at Prestbury Park before

However, Ruby Walsh was in cruise control all the way round and the Fly held off a fierce challenge from Peddlers Cross to demonstrate that it was the classiest 2-mile hurdler in the game.

Twelve months later and the eight-year-old seems to hold all the aces going into the opening day of the 2012 Cheltenham Festival. Willie Mullins reported that the horse was travelling sweetly ahead of his January reappearance at Leopardstown and Hurricane Fly didn’t come off the bridle when winning by six lengths.

The bookmakers are reluctant to get chinned by this classy animal and 4/5 (Sky Bet £10 free bet) is the best price you can get about Walsh steering the champion home to a consecutive victory in the Champion Hurdle, although it’s not something that has been achieved since Hardy Eustace claimed the spoils in 2004 and 2005.

What can swat the Fly and have the bookies celebrating on the Tuesday of the Festival? Binocular will have his supporters and the 2010 champion missed this race twelve months ago thanks to a botched medication dose which would have seen the Nicky Henderson charge fail a drug test.

AP McCoy will be on board the eight-year-old, although his post-race comments after winning at Kempton Park on Boxing Day wouldn’t have filled anyone with confidence, with the jockey claiming that the horse was suffering from mental problems.

Perhaps an each way bet at 10/1 (Betfred bookmaker) could be the way forward with Binocular, who is also likely to be included in many forecasts with the favourite.

Grandouet is the second favourite at the moment and the French horse will be looking to buck the trend of five-year-olds struggling to contend in this race, although Katchit did recently prove that success could be achieved.

The Nicky Henderson-trained runner was a four-length winner against Overturn in the Stan James International Hurdle back in December, having previously won the Betfair Hurdle in November. However, there is the question of whether this form will stand up to Hurricane Fly. Odds of 13/2 (Bet Victor £50 free bets) are available about a Grandouet success.

In previous years, the Champion Hurdle has been a wide open contest and it’s unusual to see an odds-on favourite, although we should know better than to start compiling Festival bankers.

Zarkandar is a horse that shouldn’t be easily dismissed and odds of 7/1 (bet365) means that the five-year-old will attract a fair degree of each-way money, with the five-year-old set to run in the Betfair Hurdle on Saturday.

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