Irish Champion Hurdle Tips and Free Bets

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 Tips and Betting Offers, 3:10, 1st February 2020

The Dublin Racing Festival has proven to be an excellent addition to the jumps racing season. A number of new races were introduced for the two day event with other historic races moved about in the schedule. Having been established in 1950, the Irish Champion Hurdle is firmly in the second category and we are set for an especially entertaining renewal on Saturday.

Can Sharjah Make a Move in the Champion Hurdle Betting?

Many judges hold the Irish Champion Hurdle in the same high regard as its Cheltenham namesake. Winning both races is certainly a dream for many trainers and owners and two horses have a genuine chance of pulling that off – Honeysuckle and Sharjah.

It’s Honeysuckle who is getting the more support of the two for both races. The Henry De Bromhead trained six-year-old is the favourite for Saturday’s race thanks to some excellent performances this season and the 7lb mares’ allowance that she is in receipt of.

Connections still aren’t totally convinced that Honeysuckle should tackle the Champion Hurdle rather than the Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham and they may be forced to take the latter route if she fails to get the better of Sharjah.

There is no doubt that Sharjah is heading to the Champion Hurdle. His connections believe there is unfinished business after he was brought down in last year’s race.

Sharjah’s first performance of this season was a long way below his best but he’s one of many Willie Mullins horses for whom that was true. A much better run next time out saw him win the Matheson Hurdle and another step forward should see him land the Irish Champion Hurdle.

Supasundae Cannot be Discounted

Supasundae is one of the most popular hurdlers around. Jessica Harrington’s 10-year-old is an incredibly consistent performer which is all the more impressive given the number of different trips at which he operates.

His big performances over the years suggest that the 20/1 Ladbrokes are quoting about his chances is too big to ignore. There are concerns though. This is Supasundae’s first appearance since May of last year and 2 miles is the shortest trip over which he is really effective but still, 20/1 has to be considered a tempting enough price to have an each way play.

Betting Predictions

It would be unfair to call this year’s renewal of the Irish Champion Hurdle a two horse race but it does look very much as though the winner will be either Honeysuckle or Sharjah. Connections are excited about their prospects of going on to have great success at the Cheltenham Festival but this is a huge prize in its own right and its going to take a top class performance to win it.

Honeysuckle very obviously has the class to get the job done but she might just find that two miles is a little short for her to get the better of Sharjah who is well priced at odds of 15/8 with BetVictor.

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!