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Champion Hurdle Entries 2015
Wed, Jan 14th, 2015

Faugheen and The New One top 23 entries for Stan James Champion Hurdle

Wednesday, January 14, 2015 – Faugheen headlines 23 entries for the £400,000 Stan James Champion Hurdle, the highlight on the opening day of The Festival, Champion Day, Tuesday, March 10 at Cheltenham. The unbeaten Willie Mullins-trained seven-year-old is the Evens favourite with the sponsor after extending  his unbeaten record to nine in the Grade One Christmas Hurdle at Kempton Park on Boxing Day. Faugheen took the Grade One Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle at The Festival last year and is bidding to follow in the hoofprints of Hardy Eustace and Istabraq, who won that prestigious race en route to Stan James Champion Hurdle glory. 

Mullins, Ireland's champion Jump trainer, has six other entries including Hurricane Fly (14/1), who won the hurdling championship in 2011 and 2013 at The Festival and was third in between. The evergreen 11-year old was the Stan James Champion Hurdle favourite for the fourth consecutive year when fourth last year but has returned this season with two hard-fought victories over the reigning champion Jezki (Jessica Harrington – 11/2) in the Grade One StanJames.com Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown in November and the Grade One Ryanair Hurdle at Leopardstown over Christmas, which took his Grade One tally to a record 21. Jezki won a thrilling renewal of the Stan James Champion Hurdle in 2014 by a neck from My Tent Or Yours in record time.

Faugheen's owner Susannah Ricci is also responsible for star mare Annie Power (20/1), who was second in last year's Ladbrokes World Hurdle – her only defeat, and Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle hero Vautour (20/1). The Mullins team is completed by Un De Sceaux (14/1), who along with Vautour has embarked on a novice chasing campaign, plus the Wicklow Bloodstock Limited-owned pair of Arctic Fire (25/1) and Diakali (50/1).

The 12-strong Irish-trained entry also features last season's JCB Triumph Hurdle victor Tiger Roll (Gordon Elliott – 40/1) and the unexposed Kitten Rock (50/1). The Edward O'Grady-trained five-year-old has recorded two facile victories this season, taking the Grade Three Fishery Lane Hurdle at Navan by almost eight lengths on his comeback in November and a two-mile Listed hurdle by 14 lengths at Limerick on December 28. O'Grady said: "I have been pleased with Kitten Rock and the plan is to run him in the Limestone Lad Hurdle at Naas on Saturday. "You have got to be happy with what he has done so far this season. It's not easy to place a four stroke fiveyear-old
second season novice and he looks high in the handicap, so at this stage we thought he deserved an entry in the Champion Hurdle. "I would like to bring him to Cheltenham if he proves he is up to it. We have also put him in the World Hurdle
but, if he goes to The Festival, I would prefer to run in the Champion Hurdle. "I think he is a better horse on soft ground, but that's not to say he won't run on good ground."

The Irish-trained entries are completed by Grade Two-winning mare Little King Robin (Colin Bowe – 100/1) and Plinth (Aidan O'Brien – 100/1).

The New One (Nigel Twiston-Davies), 11/4 second favourite with Stan James, rallied strongly to finish third last year after being badly hampered. He confirmed himself as the leading British hope with an impressive 44 four and a half-length victory over Vaniteux (Nicky Henderson – 33/1) in the Grade Two StanJames.com International Hurdle at Cheltenham on December 13. The New One, successful in the 2013 Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle at The Festival, is set to complete his preparation for the hurdling championship in the Grade Two StanJames.com Champion Hurdle Trial at Haydock Park on Saturday, January 17.

Nicky Henderson is the most successful current trainer in the Stan James Champion Hurdle with five victories courtesy of See You Then (1985, 1986, 1987), Punjabi (2009) and Binocular (2010). The Lambourn handler has put in Vaniteux, third to Vautour in the 2014 Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle, and Grade One Christmas Hurdle fourth Sign Of A Victory (50/1).

Britain's champion Jump trainer Paul Nicholls has engaged Grade One StanJames.com Fighting Fifth Hurdle victor Irving (50/1) and Calipto (66/1), while his former assistant Dan Skelton has entered Bertimont (66/1) and Blue Heron (66/1). The entries are completed by Grade Three StanJames.com Greatwood Hurdle winner Garde La Victoire (Philip Hobbs – 40/1) and Grade Two scorer Zamdy Man (Venetia Williams – 66/1), plus the John Ferguson trained pair of Purple Bay (50/1), winner of the Grade Two StanJames.com Elite Hurdle at Wincanton in November, and Sea Lord (66/1).

Stan James Champion Hurdle – Stan James bet: Evens Faugheen; 11/4 The New One; 11/2 Jezki; 14/1 Hurricane Fly, Un De Sceaux; 20/1 Annie Power, Vautour; 25/1 Arctic Fire; 33/1 Vaniteux; 40/1 Garde La
Victoire, Tiger Roll; 50/1 Diakali, Irving, Kitten Rock, Purple Bay, Sign of A Victory; 66/1 Bertimont, Blue Heron, Calipto, Sea Lord, Zamdy Man; 100/1 Little King Robin, Plinth 

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