With just 3 weeks to go to Cheltenham, Paddy Power have made Ruby Walsh 1/3 favourite to ride Brave Inca in defence of his Smurfit Champion Hurdle crown on day one of the Festival.
Champion jockey AP McCoy currently has the ride but is retained by JP McManus who is thought likely to claim him to ride Straw Bear in the same race. McCoy is 5/2 to ride Brave Inca with any jockey other than Walsh or McCoy considered an unlikely 9/1.
Walsh has partnered Brave Inca only once, when winning the Grade 1
Bewley's December Hurdle at Leopardstown. McCoy has ridden the horse 9 times and has a record of six wins, a second and a third including his biggest win in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham last year.
Paddy Power said, "It's the question on everyone's lips, who'll ride the champ? We think Ruby's waiting by the phone which is also why he's favourite over AP to be top jock at the festival too".
Champion Hurdle (Paddy Power):
9/4 Detroit City, 4/1 Brave Inca, 5/1 Hardy Eustace, 8/1 Straw Bear,
10/1 Macs Joy, 16/1 Harchibald, 16/1 Iktitaf, 16/1 Sublimity, 25/1 Asian Maze, 25/1 Desert Quest, 25/1 Afsoun, 33/1 Jazz Messenger
Paddy Power Cheltenham Festival Specials:
Who will ride Brave Inca in the 2007 Champion Hurdle:
1/3 R. Walsh, 5/2 AP McCoy, 9/1 Any other jockey
15/8 R. Walsh, 5/2 AP McCoy, 5/1 R. Johnson, 9/1 T. Murphy, 10/1 R.
Thornton, 12/1 M. Fitzgerald, 14/1 B. Geraghty, 16/1 P. Carberry, 33/1
P. Brennan, 33/1 S. Thomas, 50/1 C. O'Dwyer, 50/1 G. Lee, 50/1 T.
Dobbin, 50/1 D. Russell
Ground for 1st race:
8/11 Good to Soft, 9/4 Good, 3/1 Soft, 20/1 Heavy, 66/1 Good to Firm
Highest priced winner (sp):
11/4 - 25/1 and under, 7/4 - 28/1 to 33/1, Evs - 40/1 and over
How many winners trained in Ireland:
8/1 Up to & incl four, 5/1 five or six, 13/8 seven or eight, 6/4 nine or ten, 6/1 eleven or more