Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

KING CONOR; It's Time for a New Champ in the Shape of Dessie's Star Turn

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

KING CONOR; It's Time for a New Champ in the Shape of Dessie's Star Turn

Article excerpt

Byline: garry owen

THE wait's almost over and I can smell the horses.

The Champion Hurdle looks one of the best renewals in years and I believe we'll see a new star crowned in this magnificent arena today.

OUR CONOR (3.20) has been on my radar since he turned last year's Triumph Hurdle into a procession.

Taking it up on the bit between the last two he quickly put 15 lengths between himself and Far West.

Much has been made of his two defeats by the champ Hurricane Fly at Leopardstown but his trainer has never denied he's only had one race in mind since last March.

Dessie Hughes saddled Hardy Eustace to win HOPE From Punter Front successive Champion Hurdles in 2004 and 2005 and Our Conor will be ready to run for his life. The horse with the big white blaze has age statistics to overcome, with 2008 hero Katchit the only five-year-old in almost 30 years to take Champion Hurdle glory. But the last time I looked Our Conor couldn't read so let's not bother telling him. Hughes said: "I couldn't be happier with him, everything has gone well. "He was never in a battle last year's. The first day he ran he needed it and the second day he showed he had guts but probably showed he needed another run.

"It looks like Captain Cee Bee might set the pace, if he does it will be a truly-run race, just what we want." Our Conor has been bought by Barry Connell since his Festival victory and the leading owner is thrilled to be represented in one of the meeting's championship events. He said: "We saw what he did last year when he destroyed a top-class Triumph field and his campaign has been laid out by a master trainer whose prowess of peaking horses for the big day is nearly second to none. "He did it twice with Hardy Eustace and I know he's very confident, very sweet on the horse. "He put Hurricane Fly under pressure the last day but we were lucky to have a horse at all (after running on the Flat at Naas, October Handicap). "When Dessie mentioned to Richard Hughes he was going to run him on the Flat, Richard rolled his eyes and said it was a rough race so we won't be doing that again as a prep run. "He was stood in his box for three weeks after, which was a setback, but everything since then has gone great. He's stepped up each time and had a length and a half to find. "Hurricane would be the better horse on the Flat so you'd expect a speed track like Leopardstown to suit him. What Our Conor wants is a decent test. He's not slow but we know CHELTENHAM brings out the best in him." Connell's retained rider Danny Mullins has not yet ridden a Festival winner but is hopeful Our Conor can make his presence felt in the feature event. The jockey said: "Having been there and won as well as he did last year is great but he's going to have to get up that hill faster this time. …

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