1pt win Vroum Vroum Mag @7/2, 17:30 Punchestown, Friday

Punchestown’s Champion Hurdle is uncharacteristically wide-open this year as it’s 7/2 the field from the favourite Vroum Vroum Mag, who has lost some of her invincibility after a few defeats to Apple’s Jade this season.

There are few taking aim here with hard luck stories from March, including Tombstone, who was one of the big punts of Cheltenham in the Coral Cup before flopping badly.

I doubt he’s good enough, but Nicky Henderson’s raider Brain Power is another Cheltenham flop who could bounce back.

He was hyped for the Champion Hurdle but raced keenly and didn’t appear to see out the trip at championship pace.

I suspect a flatter track will suit him and with Petit Mouchoir being withdrawn we can expect a lesser pace.

He’s entitled to improve for the run in March and is quite backable at 13/2.

The one who first jumped out when the markets went up was County Hurdle winner Arctic Fire, who is top-class on his day and nearly beat Faugheen in the 2015 Champion Hurdle.

He had been out a long time before carrying top weight to success in that Cheltenham handicap, so it’s hard to argue he’s lost any of his class.

The big negative is the County Hurdle form hasn’t worked out since with L’Ami Serge, Winter Escape and Ozzie The Oscar flopping next time out – but Mohaayed ran well in the Scottish Champion Hurdle to offer some encouragement.

Either way, Arctic Fire has every right to improve for the run after such a long layoff, so it’d be dangerous to rule him out because of that.

Perhaps the answer to this puzzle is an easy one, as My Tent Or Yours almost certainly has the best recent form in the race after running an excellent second in the Champion Hurdle behind Buveur D’Air, and then second again to the same foe at Aintree.

He’s not popular in the market and can be backed at 13/2, but I can’t back him because of the way he struggled in this race last year, when Vroum Vroum Mag beat him fairly easily.

The mares’ allowances can be crucial in this races, so Vroum Vroum Mag will take a lot of beating and it’s a tip in itself that Ruby Walsh has chosen to ride her over Arctic Fire.

Anyone backing Supreme Novices’ winner Labaik at 6/1 is a moron after what happened earlier in the week, as the horse refused to start again but did complete the race.

At 20/1 I might be tempted, but 6/1 is awful, awful value despite him undoubtedly being a big player if he jumps off.

After changing my mind several times I’ve gone full circle and am siding with the favourite VROUM VROUM MAG, despite her form this season has been a little short of her best, as she hasn’t been aggressively campaigned and Ruby riding suggests she’s primed for a big run.

Defeats to the mare Apple’s Jade are perfectly acceptable as she is undoubtedly top-class, and those form lines don’t tie in with the geldings’ at all.

The mares’ allowance is significant and 7/2 looks to have some juice in it.

1pt win Vroum Vroum Mag @7/2, 17:30 Punchestown, Friday

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