Saturday’s Racing Post Hurdle (formerly The Greatwood) has proved a decent fishing ground for Champion Hurdle contenders. Olofi was 2nd in it last year and 5th in 2010. Although he carried only 10st 11lb when winning on Saturday, I think it was a pretty good performance. Very soft ground obviously suits him well and it’s far from impossible that we will get those conditions come March and the Cheltenham festival.
His trainer and jockey have called Olofi an unlucky horse and he does seem to find more than his fair share of trouble. A difficult ride (he wears cheekpieces and has his tongue tied down to aid breathing) he was, as usual, quite keen throughout the race on Saturday. One noticeable difference from an ‘unlucky’ race last season was the way he reacted to being baulked.
In the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury, he took a bump approaching the last and he then seemed to want to get as far away from the bumper (Get Me Out Of Here) as possible, veering badly right and having to be switched round another horse before resuming his challenge. In the end he was beaten under 5 lengths by Zarkandar although he was in receipt of 15 lbs.
On Saturday, he was badly blocked (though legally, imo) by Bothy as he tried to get to the running rail approaching the last; this time, he regained his momentum very quickly and surged past – no mean feat at a crucial point in a hot race. He kept on well to win and there might be a chance that the penny has finally dropped with him. He is still only 6 and could well have a fair bit of improvement to come.
But it’s likely to be a hot Champion Hurdle this year; I fancy Zarkandar strongly and Rock On Ruby, last year’s winner, looks the type who will improve. Hurricane Fly could be back to his best too. Anyway, I wouldn’t risk more than fiver but 100/1 about any winner of Saturday’s race, given its history, for the Champion Hurdle is probably worth a small bet.
William Hill offer 100/1