Named after the great AP McCoy, Champ can live up to his name by justifying favouritism in Wednesday’s Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.
CHAMP – 3-1 with Betfair. 1.30pm Cheltenham Wednesday 13th March.
The fact that the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle favourite is called Champ is no coincidence as the horse named in honour of AP McCoy, possibly the greatest national hunt jockey any of us will ever witness, was earmarked as a potential jumping star at an early age. And the son of King’s Theatre can continue his rise to the very top with a victory in the 2m 5f contest, the opening race on day 2 of the Cheltenham Festival.
Leading owner JP McManus and champion national hunt jockey AP McCoy enjoyed great success together so when the latter announced his retirement his previous employer and great friend set about naming one of his young horses in honour of the winner of the 2010 BBC Sports Personality Of The Year award. Picking out a promising son of King’s Theatre has proved an inspired move as the gelding who now goes by the name of Champ is 3-1 favourite for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle in the latest Cheltenham Festival betting odds.
After making a winning debut in a National Hunt Flat race in January 2017 the gelding finished second on his next start before being sent over hurdles at Ascot a year later. A neck defeat at the hands of a horse called Vinndication has turned out to be very good form with that horse now rated 149 over hurdles and 150 over fences. Since that narrow defeat to a more experienced rival Champ has carried all before him, winning four in a row culminating in an impressive victory in the Grade 1 Challow Hurdle at Newbury. While this will be the seven-year-old’s stiffest test to date connections will be disappointed if the horse does not prove up to the task.
Champ wins the last Grade 1 of the year on ITV Racing – the Betway Challow Novices' Hurdle for Nicky Henderson! pic.twitter.com/nPxhOLdva4— ITV Racing (@itvracing) December 29, 2018
Battleoverdoyen The Big Danger
Last year’s Ballymore went to the highly-regarded Samcro from the Gordon Elliott stable and in Battleoverdoyen (9-2 with Betvictor nrnb) they have a horse who is expected to go on to prove a leading light for owner Gigginstown in the years ahead. Following easy wins in a point-to-point and Bumper the Doyen gelding made a winning start over the smaller obstacles in a Navan maiden before stepping right up to Grade 1 company at Naas. While main market rival Tornado Flyer failed to give his running the mount of Jack Kennedy could do no more than to win comfortably.
While far from a two-horse race this could develop into a match between the principles with Champ expected to come out on top in a fascinating contest.