William Hill go top price on well fancied Willie Mullins Champion Hurdle runner

Willie Mullins at the 2018 Cheltenham Festival

The Sharjah and Patrick Mullins combination are a match made in heaven. The duo made it a fabulous hat-trick together in the Matheson Hurdle at Leopardstown over the Christmas period. He showed an electric turn of foot when asked to go and must be exciting connections with Cheltenham not too far away.

Runner-up in the Champion Hurdle behind the talented Epatante in March, Sharjah always seems to go in under the radar. He has never been sent off favourite for any of his successes. This may be down to the fact Paul Townend opted to ride another in the race.

He was given an extremely patient ride by Patrick, dropped out to the back of the pack. At the other end, Rachael Blackmore attempted to make it a proper test from the front on Aspire Tower.

Saint Roi, who has been many people’s idea of Willie’s best hope for the Champion Hurdle, had no excuses on this occasion. He was well-positioned by Mark Walsh throughout the race but his jumping let him down. If he is to win in March, he needs to improve bucketloads.

Another Willie Mullins inmate caught the eye having his first run for more than 400 days. Saldier travelled like a dream for a long way before just fading after the last. With that run under his belt, he looks sure to improve on that effort and he cannot be discounted at large prices.

William Hill cut Sharjah into 8-1 but they are still currently top price for the showpiece event on the Tuesday. Epatante disappointed when last seen so this looks like a brilliant each way price currently. He got mown down by her in the race last March but if they deploy different tactics, they may well turn the tables on her.

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