Irish Champion Hurdle Preview: Tips, Betting Offers and Odds, Leopardstown, 2nd February 2019
The Irish Champion Hurdle is one of the first major races in the calendar year for jumps fans. Here we provide our betting tips for the race and highlight some of the best odds and offers available.
The two mile trip of this Irish equivalent to the Cheltenham Champion Hurdle sees the runners tackle just over a circuit of Leopardstown’s flat galloping track during the Dublin Racing Festival. Top class hurdlers have been tackling the eight hurdles of this contest since the inaugural running back in 1950.
Irish Champion Hurdle Betting Tips
Odds correct at the time of writing and are subject to change.
- Apple’s Jade to win at 5/4 with bet365
Irish Champion Hurdle Betting Offers
- Offers coming soon. Remember to keep an eye on our Cheltenham Festival Betting Offers page as it won’t be long before the bookies start rolling out their top offers for it!
Irish Champion Hurdle Tips and Preview 2019
Not everybody was convinced about the idea of holding a major racing meeting in Ireland in the month before the Cheltenham Festival but those doubters were forced to admit that they got things wrong last year. The first Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown was an absolute triumph 12 months ago and it’s set to be every bit as good second time around. The Irish Champion Hurdle is the highlight of an excellent card on Saturday. The field may be relatively small but it is packed full of quality so punters have some big decisions to make.
Kennedy’s Faith to be Repaid
Six horses are set to go to post to tackle the 2 miles of the Irish Champion Hurdle. It’s safe to say that those six are of such high quality that any jockey would be chomping at the bit to get a ride on any of them. Jack Kennedy would not swap his booking on Apple’s Jade for anything though.
Kennedy has been through good times and bad with Apple’s Jade. He was on board during her highly disappointing performances at Cheltenham and Punchestown which ended her season last year. When some were writing her off, Kennedy remained confident that she could rediscover her best which is exactly what the seven-year-old has managed this season.
After winning twice over 2 miles 4 furlongs – once at Group 1 level and once at Group 2 – she was stepped up to 3 miles for the Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown on 28 December. Apple’s Jade could hardly have been more comfortable that day and the fact she was almost able to coast home meant the trip was no problem whatsoever.
Talking to the press in the build up to the Irish Champion Hurdle, Kennedy has suggested that going back down in trip will be no problem either. Apple’s Jade is a classy and versatile performer which is why she’s the favourite at a best price of 5/4 with bet365. She’ll need to at least maintain her performance levels from this season to win but there’s no reason why Gordon Elliott’s charge can’t do exactly that.
Never Write Supasundae Off
The bookies are struggling to separate Apple’s Jade’s two main contenders, Melon and Supasundae. Of the two you’d probably say that Melon is the highest quality performer on his day. The problem is that his days have been too few and far between lately and you just can’t feel confident about backing Willie Mullins’ charge at a general 11/4.
Punters always feel confident that when backing Supasundae, Jessica Harrington’s nine-year-old will always give 100%. He has developed a well earned reputation for being a battle hardened competitor who grinds his way to good finishes rather than the sort who will blow his opponents away. Although he may contest a longer race at Cheltenham but he has the pace to do well over 2 miles at Leopardstown and is the most likely challenger to Apple’s Jade at 11/4 with Ladbrokes.
Irish Champion Hurdle Previous Winners
- 2019 – Apple’s Jade – jockey Jack Kennedy, trainer Gordon Elliott
- 2018 – Supasundae – jockey Robbie Power, trainer Jessica Harrington
- 2017 – Petit Mouchoir – jockey David Mullins, trainer Henry de Bromhead
- 2016 – Faugheen – jockey Ruby Walsh, trainer Willie Mullins
- 2015 – Hurricane Fly – jockey Ruby Walsh, trainer Willie Mullins
- 2014 – Hurricane Fly – jockey Ruby Walsh, trainer Willie Mullins
- 2013 – Hurricane Fly – jockey Ruby Walsh, trainer Willie Mullins
- 2012 – Hurricane Fly – jockey Ruby Walsh, trainer Willie Mullins
- 2011 – Hurricane Fly – jockey Paul Townend, trainer Willie Mullins
- 2010 – Solwhit – jockey Davy Russell, trainer Charles Byrnes
- 2009 – Brave Inca – jockey Ruby Walsh , trainer Colm Murphy
- 2008 – Sizing Europe – jockey Andrew McNamara, trainer Henry de Bromhead
- 2007 – Hardy Eustace – jockey Conor O’Dwyer, trainer Dessie Hughes
- 2006 – Brave Inca – jockey Tony McCoy, trainer Colm Murphy
Irish Champion Hurdle History
A Grade One contest over a flying two miles, it should perhaps come as little surprise that it is the more fleet of foot younger horse who has held the edge over the years. Any six year old lining up is worthy of close inspection as they have comfortably the best record here. That said there have been two winners as young as four, whilst the ripe old age of eleven proved no barrier to success for Brave Inca or Hurricane Fly.
Hurricane Fly is worthy of a special mention here. This race has not yet been renamed in honour of the popular chestnut, however such an accolade would be fitting given the dominance of the Willie Mullins star in this contest. Five consecutive victories here, between the years of 2011-2015, feature amongst the World Record 22 Grade One wins achieved by one of the greatest two mile hurdlers of all time. The last of these top level triumphs came in this very contest, before the son of Montjeu was granted a well-earned retirement in August of 2015.
Hurricane Fly’s five wins put him out in front as the most successful horse in the races history. Not far behind with four successes is another of Irelands most renowned hurdlers; Istabraq. In the famous green and gold silks of J P McManus, this gelding was simply untouchable for Aidan O’Brien at his peak. This horse was all class and also racked up three Champion Hurdles at the Cheltenham Festival in his period of dominance between 1998 and 2001.
It is Istabraq who paved the way for his rider Charlie Swan to become the leading jockey in the history of the race. Wins aboard Nordic Surprise and Like-A-Butterfly allayed to Istabraq’s four victories put the boy from Tipperary out in front on six. Closing in fast on five wins is Ruby Walsh. With the pick of the Willie Mullins battalion it could merely be a matter of time before Ruby is out in front on his own. It is Mullins who leads the way amongst the trainers here, thanks to the five wins of Hurricane Fly.
This is one prize the Irish like to keep on home soil. Since the inaugural running of the race, won by the great Vincent O’Brien, with three time Champion Hurdler Hatton’s Grace, our friends from the Emerald Isle have maintained a fierce grip on the trophy. A grip which has very rarely been loosened. Indeed it took until 1979 before Fred Rimmell recorded the first British success with Connaught Ranger. The 1990 spoils went to Britain again with Barry Hills and Nomadic Way and Frenchman Thierry Doumen wrested the prize away for France with Foreman in 2004, but in the vast majority of cases it is the Irish eyes that are smiling at Leopardstown in January.
Be sure to check out our tips for the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham too. Not long now!