Hurricane Fly out but Mullins retains trump Morgiana Hurdle card
The Ladbrokes.com Morgiana Hurdle betting has been thrown wide open as trainer Willie Mullins has pulled out the heavily-fancied odds-on favourite Hurricane Fly.
Last season’s Champion Hurdle winner was as short as 2/5 to make a winning seasonal reappearance and ante-post punters may now be slightly concerned that the fragile horse may have a problem that will impact a return to Cheltenham.
However, Mullins revealed no such setback in his short and sharp explanation and it seems on first impression that another agenda is to be followed before an arrival at Cheltenham in March.
Mullins said: “He’s not running on Sunday. I’ve advised he be taken out of the betting.”
The Morgiana Hurdle is now down to five runners, but Mullins still has a fine chance of victory with his two remaining entrants Thousand Stars and So Young.
Thousand Stars won the French Champion Hurdle on his latest start and although there is the belief that he is better suited to further, he still has the capabilities of winning over 2m.
So Young is another who may ideally want further than 2m, but a repeat of his third at Cheltenham in March in the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle would make him competitive.
Thousand Stars looks a sound bet at 3/1 to win at Punchestown, while So Young can be backed at 11/2.
The new favourite following the withdrawal of Hurricane Fly is Pittoni, who was mightily impressive on his seasonal reappearance at Naas last month.
However, despite the ease of this success, it remains unknown if he is capable of mixing it in Group company and 5/4 looks a short price given this doubt.
Oscars Well is also prominent in the horse racing betting at 5/2 and if he can improve from a pleasing reappearance at Down Royal when giving weight to a decent field, he must be respected.