With both Faugheen and Arctic Fire, last year’s one-two, ruled out through injury, Tuesday’s Champion Hurdle (3.30pm) has lost a little of its star quality.
The New One is the only survivor of the 2015 renewal and Nigel Twiston-Davies seems very keen on his chances.
Having been available at 20/1 a few weeks ago, he is now as short as 5/1 in places which is simply too skinny a price for a horse having his third attempt at this prize.
Willie Mullins may have lost his two big sidelined stars, but I still fancy him to land his fourth Champion Hurdle in six years with ANNIE POWER.
The hugely talented eight-year-old mare, winner of 13 of her 15 races under rules, will be making her third start at a Cheltenham Festival; remarkably she’s still looking for her first win.
Having been outstayed by More Of That in the 2014 World Hurdle, she famously fell at the last flight in the Mares’ Hurdle 12 months ago.
She proved at Punchestown that the fall hadn’t rocked her confidence and she blew the cobwebs away when bolting up in a pipe-opener at that same venue last month.
Admittedly, she hasn’t run over this trip since winning an ‘egg and spoon’ race at Doncaster in January 2014, but she shapes as if a fast-run two miles will suit.
Her 7lb mares allowance is another huge bonus and the fact that there is still cut in the ground puts even more emphasis on stamina. She has to be the call at 9/4 with Betway.
Nichols Canyon and Identity Thief just don’t seem top class, while My Tent Or Yours hasn’t been seen on a racecourse for almost two years.
Hargam may run well at a massive price, but I think they’ll all be chasing Annie Power’s shadow.
Annie Power, 3.30pm Cheltenham