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FRENCH HOLLY, who pricked the Grey Shot bubble at Sandown on Saturday, is ready to shake up the Champion Hurdle.

The Tote went a stingy 10-1 about Ferdy Murphy's gelding for the Champion after his 14-length demolition of Grey Shot in the Tolworth Hurdle.

Corals offered 20-1 and spokesman Simon Clare cooed: "French Holly's victory oozed class, and if, and when, his trainer gives him the green light for the Champion Hurdle you can bet his odds will tumble immediately."Yesterday Murphy hinted that a Champion challenge was in the offing.

"I was chuffed to bits with him and if the ground came up soft at Cheltenham he would run in the Champion Hurdle," he said.

"But I'm a bit sceptical about that, knowing the way the track drains."

Murphy, whose Festival options for the strapping seven-year-old include the novice events, added: "We will keep all doors open. He will have one more race before Cheltenham but I'm not certain where yet.

""I like to wait a few days after a race just to see how the horse is, but I had my mind on the Agfa Hurdle back at Sandown next month.

"He would have a 10lb penalty in that race but that shouldn't bother him, he was very impressive yesterday."

Ian Balding has not ruled Grey Shot out of the Champion, despite the classy Flat stayer grinding to a halt in the holding ground.

He said: "The jury's still out. "He can't use his speed on this ground. But if it came up fast at Cheltenham they wouldn't be able to live with him."

Grey Shot is 25-1 with both Corals and Hills.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:Coleman, Tony
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jan 12, 1998
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