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Champion Hurdle betting tips: Mullins' 12/1 second-string overlooked in Tuesday's Cheltenham feature

Willie Mullins' Sharjah has been overlooked in the Champion Hurdle reckons Brian Healy. (credit:Credit by bettingpro)

Brian Healy reveals his each-way selection to run a big race in Tuesday's Grade One feature race at the Cheltenham Festival, the Champion Hurdle.

The undoubted feature race of the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival is the two mile Champion Hurdle, which gets underway at 3.30pm as the fourth race of the day on a top class afternoon of horse racing action at the ‘greatest show on turf’.

Nicky Henderson’s Buveur D’air is the defending champion, and the Seven Barrows star will be bidding to win a third successive crown and join a select band of champions which also includes former stable stalwart See You Then.

However, he faces some stiff opposition and arguably his toughest Champion Hurdle assignment yet in this latest title defence; he’s also been beaten this season when surprisingly overturned at Kempton by stablemate Verdana Blue when losing out in the Christmas Hurdle.

Despite the reversal, he is a proven top-class performer, and he is likely to be hard to beat; but with potential rivals Apple’s Jade and Laurina - both unbeaten this season - likely to oppose the champion rather than contest the Mares’ Hurdle earlier on the card, he faces a stiff ask in giving those classy mares 7lbs at the weights.

It could be a Champion Hurdle for the ages if all three go to post, but at bigger odds the chances of another Willie Mullins inmate in SHARJAH (12/1, Paddy Power, each-way) shouldn’t be overlooked, and the Doctor Dino gelding could post big run.

A smart performer in France previously, he won his first two hurdles starts in impressive fashion prior to falling at Leopardstown in the Paddy Power Future Champions Novice Hurdle when looking set to collect. That fall possibly dented his confidence, and he struggled to get competitive subsequently, including when only finishing in mid-division in last season’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.

The six-year old has been kept busy this term, contesting both over hurdles and on the flat where he won at the Galway Festival, and he has returned to hurdling in good fettle where he has won two of his last three which include defeat of Faugheen in the Morgiana Hurdle, and Supasundae in the Ryanair Hurdle.

He had Jessica Harrington’s versatile performer almost four lengths in arrears in a field that also included Melon - runner-up in the Champion Hurdle twelve months ago - and Samcro, who was subsequently found to be carrying a virus and he hasn’t been seen out since.

Defending champion Buveur D'air (left) was turned over in the Christmas Hurdle by stablemate Verdana Blue (right)


On a strict line through Supasundae, it is clear that Willie Mullins’ charge has a bit to find with Apple’s Jade, with Jessica Harrington’s charge having twice come off worst in clashes this term against the top-class mare.

But still only a six-year old, and having taken big steps forward this term it is feasible to think that there could still be further improvement now he has regained his confidence; he has been very much overlooked in the build-up to the Tuesday feature given the possible Buveur D’air v Laurina v Apple’s Jade clash of the titans, but she is rated only 1lb lower than the latter, and 6lbs ahead of his unbeaten stablemate.

While ratings can often be taken with a pinch of salt, it is a measure of how far he has come this season, and while he needs to find another jolt of progress he shouldn’t be ruled out with the ground unlikely to present an issue, and a likely strongly-run race very much in his favour.

He certainly looks worthy of an each-way interest against the top three in the race, and he can mount a challenge.

2019 CHAMPION HURDLE SELECTION - SHARJAH (12/1, Paddy Power, each-way)


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Champion Hurdle betting tips: Mullins' 12/1 second-string overlooked in Tuesday's Cheltenham feature

Brian Healy reveals his each-way selection to run a big race in Tuesday's Grade One feature race at the Cheltenham Festival, the Champion Hurdle.

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