Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle – Tuesday 10 March 2009

Time to nail my colours to the mast in the Champion Hurdle and it has to be Celestial Halo who is a great value at 12/1 which is generally available. I fully expect him to beat Osana at Sandown tomorrow before running another great race on the opening day of the Festival.

At Festival 2008, Celestial Halo did the business for me in the Triumph Hurdle when landing my NAP bet at 10/1. Too early to select a NAP for this year’s Festival but he very much rates a solid each way selection against Binocular, about whom there are some doubts. Fisrtly, evidence suggests he won’t get up the hill (watch the video of last year’s Supreme Novices) in a battle and as daft as it may sound to some I think his jumping puts him at risk of a fall. He’s an all or nothing jumper; if he gets it right then he is the other side of the hurdle before you know it but it he gets it wrong he’ll be on the deck. In the cauldron of the opening day of the Festival this is a real risk and at 6/4 no thanks.
Yes, Binocular beat CH at Ascot but with Cheltenham we are playing the long game and in this blog we are looking for value. Based on their training profiles I think that Nicky Henderson’s form will tail off come 6 weeks time but Nicholls will be rampant. 6/4 Binocular or 12/1 each eay Celestial Halo? – an easy choice.
Celestial Halo’s experience of a Festival win will stand him in good stead. He’s a course and distance winner unlike Binocular. The Nicholls camp are confident. Last year he went into the Festival off the back of a defeat but tomorrow he should win and Nicholls will have him A1 for the big day.
Get on at 12/1.