Champion Hurdle Preview: Tips, Betting Offers and Odds, Cheltenham, 3.30, 13 March 2018
The big one on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival is of course the Champion Hurdle. Here we highlight some of the best odds and offers around, provide our betting tips and take a look at the history of this great race.
Run over a distance of 2m 110 yards, this Grade 1 hurdle is the first of the week’s major championship races and has been won by some real superstars over the years. With close to £400,000 in total prize money this contest is the number one target for the top hurdlers in training.
Champion Hurdle Betting Offers and Free Bets
NON RUNNER, NO BET – the following bookies are offering non runner no bet on the Champion Hurdle:
- Bet365 – also offering Best Odds Guaranteed
- Paddy Power
- 888sport – the bookie also offers a Bet £10, Get £30 deal to new customers
Other free bets, enhanced odds and other offers for this race will be listed below but check out the latest Cheltenham Festival Betting Offers for the best promos for the Festival as a whole.
Champion Hurdle Tips and 2018 Race Preview
The sensational Buveur D’Air will be looking to win this race back to back and he’s the odds on favourite to do so. He’s shown no sign of tailing off since his win a year ago, picking up victories in the Aintree Hurdle, Fighting Fifth Hurdle and Christmas Hurdle since. He’ll definitely be the horse to beat when he makes his way to the starting line and it’s hard to see who can stand in the way of the majestic seven-year-old.
Faugheen could offer some danger to the favourite and Willie Mullins is hoping to run the 10-year-old in the Irish Champion Hurdle in preparation. This is a race he won in 2015 but injuries have limited his time on the racecourse since. He only made one appearance in 2016 and two in 2017, the last of which saw him pulled up at Leopardstown. If he can regain his old form he’ll be one to consider but that is looking like a very big if as things stand.
Apple’s Jade has a few options for this year’s Cheltenham Festival and it’ll be interesting to see which one Gordon Elliott opts for. If pitted against the boys, you can expect the bay mare to make a good account of herself. Annie Power flew the flag for the girls two years ago when winning in convincing style, finishing ahead of My Tent Or Yours. Interestingly this was the third time My Tent Or Yours has finished runner-up in this race so it would be no surprise to see him collect a place finish once again.
Champion Hurdle Previous Winners
- 2017 – Buveur d’Air – jockey Noel Fahily, trainer Nicky Henderson
- 2016 – Annie Power – jockey Ruby Walsh, trainer Willie Mullins
- 2015 – Faugheen – jockey Ruby Walsh, trainer Willie Mullins
- 2014 – Jezki – jockey Barry Geraghty, trainer Jessica Harrington
- 2013 – Hurricane Fly – jockey Ruby Walsh, trainer Willie Mullins
- 2012 – Rock On Ruby – jockey Noel Fehily, trainer Paul Nicholls
- 2011 – Hurricane Fly – jockey Ruby Walsh, trainer Willie Mullins
- 2010 – Binocular – jockey Tony McCoy, trainer Nicky Henderson
- 2009 – Punjabi – jockey Barry Geraghty, trainer Nicky Henderson
- 2008 – Katchit – jockey Robert Thornton, trainer Alan King
- 2007 – Sublimity – jockey Philip Carberry, trainer John Carr
- 2006 – Brave Inca – jockey Tony McCoy, trainer Colm Murphy
Champion Hurdle History
Once a horse has established they are in possession of the requisite class, speed and slick hurdling ability to land this prize, it is not unusual for them to return to take the crown once again.
There have been numerous horses to have won this race on more than one occasion and five have managed to triumph three years in succession. The first to accomplish this was Hatton’s Grace for Vincent O’Brien (1949-51). It didn’t take long for this feat to be repeated however as Sir Ken immediately rattled off three consecutive victories from 1952 to 1954. Persian War narrowly missed out on becoming the first to win it four years in a row when finishing second to Bula in 1971. See You Then achieved his hat-trick for Nicky Henderson between 1985 and 1987 in the capable hands of Steve Smith Eccles.
1998-2000 marked the golden years for one of the greatest hurdlers to ever take to the track. Aidan O’Brien’s Istabraq won just about every major hurdle going during these years, including three wins in this race. The JP McManus gelding was heavily favoured to make it four in a row in 2001 but was denied by the foot and mouth crisis, which caused the meeting to be abandoned.
However there is one individual who has made it to the winners enclosure in four concurrent years, jockey Tom Moloney. Having partnered Hatton’s Grace for the last of his victories the Irishman was aboard Sir Ken for all three of his Cheltenham successes.
Only two horses have succeeded in regaining their crown having lost it. Namely, Comedy Of Errors 1973 and 1975 and the horse to have won more Grade 1’s than any other, Hurricane Fly (2011 and 2013).
Peter Easterby and Nicky Henderson lead the way amongst the training ranks with five wins apiece. Easterby was aided by dual wins for both Night Nurse and Sea Pigeon, whilst Henderson followed up See You Then’s hat-trick with wins for Punjabi (2009) and Binocular (2010).
Only three mares have taken this prize over the years, African Sister (1939), Flakey Dove (1994) and best of the lot, the remarkable Dawn Run in 1984 who went on to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1986.
The brilliant Fred Winter now has a race at the Festival named in his honour and certainly enjoyed a particular affinity with this contest. He topped his record of three wins as a jockey by sending out the winner on four occasions as a trainer.
Hurdle races at around this distance are always likely to be the playground for the younger speedier runners and that certainly seems to be the case here. The winner has been aged seven or younger over 75% of the time. That’s not to say a good old one can’t still come out on top. Hatton’s Grace and Sea Pigeon ably demonstrated this point when seeing off all comers at the age of 11.
When looking for the winner of this race it can pay to let the market guide you. The favourite or joint favourite has taken the honours an above average 34 times in the first 85 editions. The biggest priced winners were Kirriemuir in 1965 and Beech Road in 1989, both at the rewarding odds of 50/1.