2021 Champion Hurdle Guide

Cheltenham - March 16 2021
Cheltenham 15:05
10
Rachael Blackmore

Honeysuckle

J:
 
Rachael Blackmore
T:
 
Henry De Bromhead
Age: 7
Weight: 11-3
OR: 161
Days: -45

The new girl on the block. Henry De Bromhead’s seven year old mare boasts an unbeaten record and a CV that hosts no less than six Grade One victories. 

She won last season’s Irish Champion hurdle at Leopardstown before going on to Cheltenham for a super showdown with Benie Des Dieux.

An inspired ride by Blackmore saw her steal lengths on the field nipping up the inside rail and her mount showing tactical speed and heart to hold off the late challenge of her rival. 

This season she’s defended her Hattons Grace crown at Fairyhouse before going to Dublin again for the Irish Champion Hurdle.

Blackmore clearly unhappy with the pace the field were going took matters into her own hands down the back straight and pushed forward on Honeysuckle.

The injection of pace bullied the field into submission and the wonder mare bounded to a 10 length victory over Abacadabras. 

She’s versatile on ground conditions, she has gears, she stays further than two miles so won’t mind a hard pace and she acts at Cheltenham.

There could be a new Queen atop the two mile division come Tuesday afternoon. Her and Blackmore make a tremendous partnership and she looks the one to beat. 

Cheltenham - March 16 2021
Cheltenham 15:05
9
Aidan Coleman

Epatante

J:
 
Aidan Coleman
T:
 
Nicky Henderson
Age: 7
Weight: 11-3
OR: 161
Days: -45

The reigning, defending queen of two miles. She burst onto the two mile scene last year with an impressive listed handicap win at Newbury.

Thrust straight into the deep end she next contested the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton and was absolutely spellbinding. Her finishing speed was really put on display as she booted clear of Silver Streak. 

Concerns over whether she would act at Cheltenham or not were quickly put to bed when she swung for home in last year’s Champion Hurdle on the bridle.

When Barry Geraghty got after her she quickly went through the gears and showed that finishing speed again to pull three lengths clear of Sharjah. 

This season she was again mesmerising in the Grade One Fighting Fifth at Newcastle before disappointing in the Christmas Hurdle. She just wasn’t herself and that finishing kick just wasn’t there to get to Silver Streak. 

She can put Kempton behind her and go on to retaining her crown. A break will probably have done her good and she holds a good portion of this field on previous form. 

She travels well, quickens up and jumps with accuracy. If she’s back on song she’s going to be incredibly hard to beat. 

Cheltenham - March 16 2021
Cheltenham 15:05
3
Jamie Moore

Goshen

J:
 
Jamie Moore
T:
 
Gary Moore
Age: 5
Weight: 11-10
OR: 164
Days: -45

An enigma of a horse to say the least. Goshen ascended the ranks of the juveniles last season only to break hearts, accumulators and place-pots alike with his final flight mistake in the Triumph Hurdle. 

Gary Moore’s five year old has a stiff task on his hands giving away 7lb to the girls in the field.

A couple of spins on the flat saw him come sixth of six and third of seven, bitterly disappointing for one with such a lofty reputation.

He then slipped further in expectations when trailing home last in the International Hurdle at Cheltenham in December. The bubble looked burst. 

But, a 70 day break Goshen returned at Wincanton in late February in the Kingwell hurdle and bounced back to form in style.

A 22 length procession saw him blitz the field and come home at a canter. 

He’s thrust himself right back into contention. Deep ground brings out the best in him for sure but what he does have is an undeniably big engine. He will just keep galloping away and will love a truly run race. 

Five year olds have a tough time in this contest but this is no ordinary horse. He could just gallop them all into submission. 

Cheltenham - March 16 2021
Cheltenham 15:05
1
Jack Kennedy

Abacadabras

J:
 
Jack Kennedy
T:
 
Mrs Denise Foster
Age: 7
Weight: 11-10
OR: 158
Days: -45

A fantastic novice hurdler for Denise Foster last season, Abacadabras won a Grade Three before threatening Envoi Allen in the Royal Bond.

Abacadabras was travelling powerfully but didn’t quite have enough to go with the unbeaten superstar. 

He quickly bounced back and took Grade One honours at Leopardstown in the Future Champions Novice Hurdle. Only a small field he showed his class to barely break a sweat and canter to an eight length victory.

He finished the season with heartbreak being beaten by Shishkin in a photo finish in the Supreme. 

This season has yielded ups and downs. Beaten at prohibitive odds on seasonal return he quickly made amends by winning the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown. 

A poor showing at Christmas behind Sharjah was put down to a post race dirty scope. 

We last saw the seven year old finish second behind Honeysuckle in the Irish Champion Hurdle.

He didn’t have the ability to get after the mare once she’d kicked clear but he kept on smartly enough to finish nine lengths ahead of Sharjah back in third. 

He travels powerfully, acts at Cheltenham and has multiple Grade One wins to his name. Certainly one for the each way shortlists. 

Cheltenham - March 16 2021
Cheltenham 15:05
8
Tom O'Brien

Silver Streak

J:
 
Tom O'Brien
T:
 
Evan Williams
Age: 8
Weight: 11-10
OR: 163
Days: -23

A very aptly named horse, Silver Streak is a gorgeous gelding who’s contested the last two Champion Hurdles. The 2019 running saw him run a huge race to plug on into third at an eye-watering 80/1. 

A Listed win, third in the Fighting Fifth, second in the Christmas Hurdle, he was struggling at the top table of the two mile division.

Sixth in last year’s Champion Hurdle didn’t inspire much confidence either in what appeared a weaker renewal. 
This season he’s notched yet another listed win.

A bizarre incident in the Fighting Fifth saw him carried out at only the second flight of hurdles by a loose horse.

He came agonisingly close to making amends in the International Hurdle at Cheltenham in December but was held by a nose by Song For Someone. 

He finally got his Grade One win in the Christmas Hurdle this season. Ridden more aggressively he made every yard of the running and bullied the finishing sting out of Epatante.

A highly impressive performance, connections might have found the key to get the best out of him. 
This is going to be fiercely run.

He won’t get his own way up front and might get dragged until a battle for the lead with Goshen. 

He’s got place credentials but his sixth last year leaves him with a lot to find. 

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
17/10/21KEM16Gd11-62
08/04/21AIN20GS11-76
16/03/21CHL16.5Sft11-106
26/12/20KEM16GS11-71
12/12/20CHL17Sft11-42
Cheltenham - March 16 2021
Cheltenham 15:05
2
Robbie Power

Aspire Tower

J:
 
Robbie Power
T:
 
Henry De Bromhead
Age: 5
Weight: 11-10
OR: 160
Days: -45

Another five year old trying to move into open company. second in the Triumph following Goshen’s final flight blunder, Aspire Tower has only been seen twice this season. 

An opening win in the WKD hurdle saw him make good use of the 6lbs he received from Abacadabras to score a Grade Two victory.

We last saw the De Bromhead second string in the Matheson hurdle at Leopardstown during the Christmas festival. A solid outing saw him finish second to Sharjah. 

A brilliant juvenile last season, he looked to be hitting the ground running in open company before stalling when being against Grade One competition. 

Not the stables main string as they also saddle Honeysuckle, Aspire Tower has been catching the eye with how well he sees out his races.

He’s a big enough price to be involved in the finish here but he does stay on well at the end of a stiff two miles. He ran creditably in the Triumph and won’t be fading up the hill. 

Not without hope to hit the frame. 

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
30/04/21PUN16Y12-08
16/03/21CHL16.5Sft11-104
29/12/20LEO16Sft11-92
30/10/20DRO16.5Y/Sft11-61
13/03/20CHL17Sft11-02
Cheltenham - March 16 2021
Cheltenham 15:05
7
Paul Townend

Sharjah

J:
 
Paul Townend
T:
 
W P Mullins
Age: 8
Weight: 11-10
OR: 164
Days: -45

Frustrating. Inconsistent. Sharjah is a difficult horse to follow. At his best he’s scintillating. He stealthily creeps into contention off the pace and quickens clear like a good horse. 

Second in last year's champion hurdle, he was maybe missed by a good chunk of viewers who had eyes fixed on Epatante.

Sharjah arrived at the last hurdle swinging away on the bridle in Patrick Mullins’ hands but didn’t have the same change in gear as the winning mare. 

First time out this season he won his third Matheson hurdle on the bounce and looked like the good horse we all know he is. He showed his gear changes and pulled away from Aspire Tower after the back of the last hurdle. 

Again he was well fancied for the Irish Champion hurdle at Dublin in early February only for Honeysuckle to put him firmly in his place by 19 lengths. She bullied the finish out of him and he trailed home tamely in third. 

His inconsistency makes him hard to follow. You don’t back him, he sluices up. You back him, he comes fourth and looks average. 

Will he win? Probably not. Will he place? Probably. They’ll go hard and he’ll have to swiftly come off the pace to be involved. 

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
29/12/22LEO16Sft11-123
20/11/22PUN16.5Y11-122
29/12/21LEO16Y/Sft11-121
14/11/21PUN16Gd/Y11-121
30/04/21PUN16Y12-02
Cheltenham - March 16 2021
Cheltenham 15:05
4
Daryl Jacob

James Du Berlais

J:
 
Daryl Jacob
T:
 
W P Mullins
Age: 5
Weight: 11-10
OR: 160
Days: -44

Who?! You might ask. James Du Berlais is a French recruit from Isaac Souede and Simon Munir that’s been taken to Closutton to be trained by Willie Mullins.

A multiple Grade Three winner over hurdles in his native France, it’s very hard to assess just how good this one could be. 
He’s won over 19.5 furlongs. He’s at home on deep ground. 

We really don’t know much else about him. He’s not run on British or Irish soil yet and has been kept quietly under wraps by team Mullins. 

All we do know is he holds an entry here. Mullins is sweet enough on him and he could be absolutely anything.

You’d be taking it on blind faith backing him that he’s that good. Probably best watched on his first outing this side of the Channel.  

Cheltenham - March 16 2021
Cheltenham 15:05
5
Jonathan Burke

Not So Sleepy

J:
 
Jonathan Burke
T:
 
Hughie Morrison
Age: 9
Weight: 11-10
OR: 149
Days: -23

A quirky sort to say the least, Hughie Morrison’s nine year old tried his hand in this race last year but found the race too hot and pulled up before the last flight. 

He made his comeback in the Fighting Fifth this season but only caused havoc. Unseating at the first, he then carried Silver Streak out while loose. 

We last saw him winning a Grade Three Handicap at Ascot where he impressively made all the running and held off the late challenge from Buzz. 

A solid handicap sort, he’s out of his depth in Grade One company. 

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
26/12/22KEM24.5Sft11-75
26/11/22NCS16GS11-103
08/10/22NMK18Gd9-53
01/07/22SAN16Gd9-25
14/06/22ASC14GF9-69
Cheltenham - March 16 2021
Cheltenham 15:05
6
Danny Mullins

Saldier

J:
 
Danny Mullins
T:
 
W P Mullins
Age: 7
Weight: 11-10
OR: 156
Days: -44

Seemingly the third string for Willie Mullins’ three pronged attack at the Champion Hurdle, Saldier has really failed to build upon the promise he showed in 2018 and 2019. 

Most notably travelling all over Espoir D’Allen at Naas in a Grade Three in late 2018 until a fall put paid to his chances. Espoir D’Allen famously went on to score a record breaking win in the 2019 Champion Hurdle. 

This season has yielded two sixth place finishes in Grade One contests. Paul Townend has seen the writing on the wall in both runs and began easing his mount down instead of applying unnecessary pressure. 

He’s been really poor this season, he’d have to improve leaps and bounds since the Dublin Racing Festival to be anywhere near the finish here.