Let me start off by saying that Hurricane Fly is an outstanding horse. He has dominated the 2 mile hurdle division over the last few years and it is an incredible achievement by his trainer (Ms Marple ) to have him back at the festival in such good form but good horses don't last forever and it might be time for a changing of the guard. Many have said that he has no chinks in his armour but I can't help thinking that the tactics employed by Rock on Ruby in 2011 helped to run the finish out of him.
Rock on Ruby was able to set a strong pace and maintain it from start to finish. Ruby Walsh blamed himself for getting too far back that day but in truth he would have been beaten further if he moved up sooner. Irish races are not run like that. Things are more cat and mouse with races developing into a sprint in Ireland and obviously that suits Hurricane Fly. It is only when you get him racing early that he struggles. The question is, are there horses in opposition this year that can put him under pressure early in the race?
The answer is yes. The New One will be at his most dangerous if Twiston-Davies sends him off in the lead and gradually turns the screw. In his novice campaign I remember him making all in a mickey mouse race at Warwick but he looked really impressive when allowed to dictate things from the front. We know he stays and we know that a sprint doesn't suit him.
If The New One employs these tactics, it brings stamina into play and puts pressure on his rivals jumping in behind. If they are not in front or upsides jumping the 2nd last, I can't see them passing The New One on the run to the line.
So what horses can travel off a blistering gallop and maintain a finishing kick? Not Captain Cee Bee (too old), Grumeti (out of form), Melodic Rendezvous (favoured by heavy ground) or Ptit Zig (handicapper). My Tent or Yours will certainly travel well and he will loom up dangerously on the home turn. I am just not convinced he will find enough under McCoy's drive to carry his momentum all the way home although I do not see him being beaten far. A certainty for a place but maybe not genuine enough to win. The other 3 horses have raced against each other twice this season with Hurricane Fly beating Our Conor and Jezki on both occasions. It is no secret that Our Conor has been trained for March though, and his races this year were steps to tune him up for peak condition on Tuesday. I also think the searching gallop will suit him more than Hurricane Fly and Jezki and I think he will finish third.
1. The New One 2. My Tent or Yours 3. Our Conor
Tactics are obviously crucial and I think the first half of the race will almost be more important than the second half in terms of how the race will pan out. The New One will probably be held up now that I've written that....