Punchestown Champion Hurdle Preview : Arctic Fire Can Deliver At The Punchestown Festival
Event Venue: Punchestown Racecourse, 5.30PM. Live on At The Races .See Stats
Arctic Fire (10/3 with Ladbrokes) finished second in the 2015 Champion Hurdle, just one and a half lengths behind the winner Faugheen. That level of form should see the horse prevail in the version at the Punchestown Festival on the Friday of the five day meeting. My Tent Or Yours is still delivering at the highest level and there is a Grade 1 hurdle in the horse but making the frame could be his limit in the Punchestown race. The meeting offers some free bet opportunities with our bookmaking partners.
The Irish Champion Hurdle is run in January at Leopardstown but the Punchestown race is the most prestigious two mile hurdle at the back end of the season in Ireland. Former winners include Hurricane Fly who won four from 2010 to 2013, Jezki and Faugheen who all won the original Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham. Vroum Vroum Mag won the race last year, carrying a 7 pounds mare’s allowance which was crucial. She beat Identity Thief by one and a quarter lengths and My Tent or Yours in third by almost five. Vroum Vroum Mag can be backed at 6/1 with Skybet.
Annie Power gets the same allowance in this year’s race and is the early ante post favourite at 2/1 with bet365. However, the horse has not run since winning at Aintree last April after also winning the Champion Hurdle and may not have retained her ability. She beat My Tent or Yours by over four lengths in Cheltenham race so a repeat of that level will see Annie Power go close but we are taking it on trust that the ability has not waned during an absence of over a year.
My Tent Or Yours was second in this year’s Champion Hurdle and second at Aintree earlier this month. Both races were won by Buveur D’Air who has an entry for Punchestown but is unlikely to run. There is about four lengths between Buveur D’Air and My Tent Or Yours which makes the latter an interesting bet to make the frame in a major two mile hurdle race yet again. Buveur D’Air beat Petit Mouchoir by a neck off level weights at Aintree last year so My Tent Or Yours has something to find with that horse who won this year’s Irish Champion Hurdle.
In theory getting within less than two lengths of Faugheen carrying the same weight makes Arctic Fire the best horse in the race but beating Annie Power carrying seven pounds more is a massive ask. However, Arctic Fire won the County Hurdle at Cheltenham carrying top weight and that is standout form even in a race of this nature which is a genuine Grade 1 contest. Arctic Fire was running a huge race at Aintree in 2015 before falling at the last and presenting Jezki with that race.
Jezki won the 2014 Champion Hurdle (here is the result) with My Tent or Yours back in second place just a neck behind the winner. On collateral form Arctic Fire has a slight edge over My Tent Or Yours (5/1 with William Hill) but Annie Power’s female horse allowance muddies the waters. Vroum Vroum Mag defends her title with the same concession but was beaten by Apple’s Jade at Cheltenham. Brain Power represents Nick Henderson but does not have the form to win at this level and Arctic Fire looks the horse to back.
ARCTIC FIRE has the past form to win the Punchestown Champion Hurdle.
- The Punchestown Champion Hurdle is a Grade 1 two mile hurdle for horses aged four and older.
- Faugheen was the last horse to win the race and Cheltenham Champion Hurdle in the same year (2015).
- Ruby Walsh has won the race six times in its present format since 1999.
- Willie Mullins has won the race seven times.
- All the 18 winners have been in the 5 to 9 age group, 9 of which were aged 7.
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