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Cheltenham Prediction: Wicklow Brave to Prove Best Without Buveur D’air in Champion Hurdle

Wicklow Brave ( without Buveur D’Air ) 10-1 Betway. Cheltenham Tuesday 13th March 3.30pm

This years Unibet Champion Hurdle looks at the mercy of the Nicky Henderson-trained Buveur D’Air who is as short as 2-5 to record back-to-back victories in the championship contest on the opening day. Providing all goes according to plan in the run up to the race the son of Crillon is almost impossible to oppose with leading contenders looking thin on the ground.

With many bookmakers quoting odds on a Cheltenham betting market without the short priced favourite the 10-1 available with Betway about the Willie Mullins-trained Wicklow Brave looks very tempting. Responsible for six of the current 19 entries for the race the master of Closutton is almost certain to withdraw Min, a leading contender for the Champion Chase on the Wednesday, while Bapaume is simply not good enough on what he has so far achieved.

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Yorkhill has plenty of top class form over hurdles but has looked out of sorts in two races over fences this season. 2015 Champion Faugheen appears to be a shadow of his former self and could not match the finishing kick of Supasundae in the Irish Champion Hurdle on his most recent start. Even more disappointing in that race was stablemate Melon who trained in a well-beaten fifth, which leaves the nine-year-old Wicklow Brave as the one from the stable most likely to chase the favourite home.

The last time the Beat Hollow gelding ran over the smaller obstacles was in the Punchestown Champion Hurdle last April when beating a high class field which included My Tent Or Yours, Arctic Fire, Labaik and Brain Power. Since then the horse has been busy on the Flat with several notable performances which included fourth place in the Group 1 Goodwood Cup behind Stradivarious. On his most recent start the versatile gelding finished a respectable tenth in the Melbourne Cup after being given plenty to do by his rider. Wicklow Brave clearly retains plenty of ability, goes into the Champion Hurdle a fresh horse and a reproduction of his Punchestown victory should see him come out as the one most likely to give Buveur D’Air a race on Tuesday 13th March.

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