16/08- This week I'm finally putting up one of my favourites in Sharjah, he ran a cracker to finish second to Honeysuckle in the Champion Hurdle at a decent price. I think the market has it wrong here and he should not be 20/1 off the back of his best season yet, with a few ahead of him in the market unlikely to even go here. The horses I'm thinking won't go are Bob Olinger, currently second favourite, he will most likely be chasing as will Appreciate It and Ferny Hollow. That leaves just Echoes In Rain and Epatante ahead of him in the betting. He's already beaten Epatante by 3 and then 10 lengths in their last two runs and Echoes In Rain has a lot to prove and may even end up in the Mares Hurdle, though we have already backed her for this anyway.
After a 2020 season ending in a second in the Champion Hurdle, he had a couple of okay flat runs over the summer. But he took his form over hurdles to another level this year, winning the Matheson Grade One on his reappearance from a fitter rival in Aspire Tower who is a decent yardstick. Next time out was his "worst" run only managing third in the Chanelle Pharma, but as I mentioned that race is worth ignoring or at least not taking at face value as Honeysuckle caught them out two from home and the race fell apart with Sharjah eased down towards the finish when his chance was gone. I'm even happier to put a line through this form as next time out he got much closer in the Champion Hurdle beating all home bar Honeysuckle again. He improved again for his closest finish to Honeysuckle getting within a couple of lengths at the last where she had an un-characteristically slow jump. He's not getting any younger but has a couple of good years left in him as an 8 year old. He's a four time grade one winner, three times runner up at the top level and a further place to his name. Do I think he will improve enough to beat Honeysuckle? No. But considering the price difference at this point, 2/1 is very short and though she hasn't shown signs of injury in previous seasons, she isn't a machine and anything could happen. I think they toyed with trying her over fences but that seems to be off the cards now.