Champion Hurdle Preview: Tips, Betting Offers and Odds, Cheltenham, 3.30, 13 March 2018
The Champion Hurdle is simply the most prestigious hurdle race in National Hunt racing. It’s a Grade 1 which makes up the first leg of the Triple Crown of Hurdling and is run over just over two miles.
Over the years the very best hurdlers around have claimed this crown and the return of Faugheen to the race is a wonderful storyline. With plenty of other potential challengers to last year’s winner, Buveur D’Air, this year’s Champion Hurdle is shaping up very nicely indeed.
Champion Hurdle Betting Tips
- Buveur D’Air to win at 8/15 with 888Sport – or take the 50/1 offer – See Below!
- Melon each way at 14/1 with Coral
Champion Hurdle Betting Offers and Free Bets
- Buveur D’Air 50/1 at Coral – new customers only, 18+, Ts and Cs apply, max £1 bet, winnings paid in free bets. UK+IRE New Customers Only. Winning bets paid in cash based on the normal price on the Coral website. Enhanced odds paid in free bets. Free bets valid for 4 days. Free bet stake not returned.
- Buveur D’Air at 40/1 with Betfair – New Customers can get Buveur D’air at an enhanced 40/1 to win the Champion Hurdle. Max Stake £1. Winnings paid in free bets, valid for 7 days, only deposits with cards/Paypal count. Exchange and multiple bets excluded. T&C’s Apply. 18+|Gamble Aware.
- Faugheen at 100/1 with Betfair – New Customers can get Faugheen at an enhanced 100/1 to win the Champion Chase. Max Stake £1. Winnings paid in free bets, valid for 7 days, only deposits with cards/Paypal count. Exchange and multiple bets excluded. T&C’s Apply. 18+|Gamble Aware.
- Ladbrokes £50 Free Bet Offer – New customers to Ladbrokes can claim a tidy £50 free bet when they join and bet that amount. 18+. New customers only. Promo code ‘F50’ required. Certain deposit methods excluded. Min £/€5 on win or each-way bet excluding Tote or pools = match max £/€50 free bet. Min odds 1/2 (1.5). Bet must be made within 14 days. Free bet valid for 4 days. Free bet stake not returned. Single bets only. Free bet cannot be used on certain markets. T&Cs apply.
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
Does Anybody Know What to Expect from the Machine?
When Faugheen won the Champion Hurdle back in 2015 it looked for all the world that we had one of the best hurdlers of all time on our hands. The Machine won fans all over the world but just a few short years later all the talk was of him being retired.
Faugheen has had all sorts of problems with injury over recent years and more than a couple of false starts when Willie Mullins pulled him out of appearances pretty late on. When he finally made his return at Punchestown in November his fans all breathed a sigh of relief as much as anything to see Faugheen hack up. Sadly, he was pulled up next time out and was then beaten by Supasundae last month.
Popular as it would be, it’s tough to imagine Faugheen doing enough to win the Champion Hurdle again, especially with Buveur D’Air so strong at the head of the market. Some claim that Nicky Henderson’s charge was only able to win at last year’s Festival because of how weak the field was but nobody can complain about the result now given how good he’s been over hurdles since.
It looked as though Henderson had designs on making Buvuer D’Air a chaser but for now he’s more than happy to keep the seven-year-old over hurdles and he should prove to be the best in the business once again at 8/15 with 888Sport.
Melon the Value Each Way Shot
It’s been a frustrating few months for connections of Melon. The six-year-old had many people sitting up and taking notice of him in his novice season last year but he’s found the step up to the big leagues tougher than many thought.
Certainly his trainer, Willie Mullins, hoped that he’d kick on but he’s far from given up on Melon. Mullins blamed the effects of Melon wearing a hood for the first time for a worryingly poor performance at Leopardstown last time out and is expecting much better from him without any equipment. How that pans out remains to be seen but the 20/1 that Coral are offering about Melon’s chances definitely look tempting enough for an each way play.
Sometimes It’s as Easy as Backing the Favourite
Profiting from the Cheltenham Festival requires a lot of research, some intuition and for luck to be on your side. Sometimes, though, it really is as easy as betting on the favourite. That’s the way it looks with the Champion Hurdle where Buveur D’Air is definitely good enough to oblige favourite backers. With such a strong favourite, a longer odds option in the shape of Melon will keep things interesting.
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.