Champion Hurdle Guide

Epatante

Trainer - Nicky Henderson

Jockey - Barry Geraghty

The market leader for some time now is the mare Epatante who spearheads Nicky Henderson's assault on the contest being unbeaten on both her starts this season.

She went into an Intermediate Hurdle at Newbury and easily cruised away from a decent field but what she did next shook the Champion Hurdle market.

She went to Kempton in the Christmas Hurdle and absolutely bolted up seeing off most of these runners today and anything close to that run again will see her win the race.

There are doubts over the mare with her only defeat coming at the festival last season but that can be put down to a blip and with the seven pound allowance she looks tough to beat.

Pentland Hills

Trainer - Nicky Henderson

Jockey - Nico De Boinville

Another chance for the master Nicky Henderson is Pentland Hills is another horse who has not quite looked the same horse this season but any run resembling his four year old form sees him go close here.

The gelding last season was unbeaten on all three starts, bolting up a Plumpton in late February and then less than two weeks later went on to land the Grade One Triumph Hurdle at the festival.

He rounded off his term by landing back to back Grade Ones at Aintree in the 4-Y-O Hurdle seeing off a strong challenge from Fakir D'oudairies.

This season he has raced twice and has lacked that power that saw him finish off his races off so well last campaign.

He started in the International Hurdle at Prestbury Park in December jumping the last looking clear to win the race but fading up the hill.

The same happened in the Grade Two Champion Hurdle Trial at Haydock where he was pipped by Ballyandy late on.

He has since had a wind op that could make all the difference.

Cilaos Emery

Trainer - Willie Mullins

Jockey - Paul Townend

Supplemented for this contest at the final moment, Cilaos Emery could be the answer to Willie Mullins frutsrating Champion Hurdle team.

Set for the Champion Chase and going over fences for the last year, Mullins reverted him back to hurdles and it looks a stroke of genius with him winning his first start over flights for the first time since 2017.

He finished fifth in the Supreme Novices Hurdle in what seems an age ago and has shown clear speed even when going over fences and he looks an interesting runner.

Darver Star

Trainer - Gavin Cromwell

Jockey - Jonathan Moore

Very much the surprise package of this season for last seasons Champion Hurdle winning trainer and Darver Star has been backed heavily in the run up to the race.

Since August the eight year old has raced six times winning four of them comfortably which saw him step up into black type company.

He finished a staying on third Behind Envoi Allen and Abacadabras at Fairyhouse in the Royal Bond Novice Hurdle and then last time out was just pipped on the line by Honeysuckle in the Irish Champion Hurdle.

These runs set the Irish form standard and still at a double figure price could be a serious each way angle.

Supasundae

Trainer - Jessica Harrington

Jockey - Robbie Power

Supasundae has been at the Cheltenham Champion Hurdle after returning to the track in decent fashion when finishing only five lengths behind winner Honeysuckle back in fourth in the Irish Champion hurdle.

The 10 year old has been one of the female trainers stable stars over the last few years and after having 274 days off the track, last seen when finishing second to Buveur D'Air in the Punchestown Champion Hurdle, he made a very pleasing comeback at the Dublin Racing Festival.

Supasundae during his career has landed three Grade One's and also is a Cheltenham festival winner in the Coral Cup back in March 2017 but now becoming a veteran the gelding may still be able to pull off a shock.

Sharjah

Trainer - Willie Mullins

Jockey - Patrick Mullins

Sharjah has been a hit and miss horse that would ideally want the ground quicker than what it looks like it will be but does have previous of winning Grade Ones.

In his career he has landed three black type victories all coming in Ireland taking the Morgiana, Ryanair and Matheson hurdles which has to be respected.

The eight year old is very hard to back but could certainly turn up on the day and land a surprise victory in the contest but will have to better than his performance last time out in the Irish Champion Hurdle.

Coeur Sublime

Trainer - Gordon Elliott

Jockey - Davy Russell

This five year old is Gordon Elliott's big hope in the race and has been tipped up by many Irish punters to run a huge price at a nice price.

He started his season off at Down Royal In the Grade Two WKD Hurdle where he breezed to victory showing great travelling speed to never come off the bridle.

Off the back of that he went to Leopardstown and was below par compared to his seasonal debut when third in the Grade One Matheson Hurdle.

If getting back to his form at the back end of last year and coming on for is wind operation he could just a bit of an upset.

Call Me Lord

Trainer - Nicky Henderson

Jockey - James Bowen

Nicky Henderson fields four on the day and Call Me Lord for Simon Munir and Isaac Souede has many key attributes and stats that give him a huge chance in this one.

The seven year old this season has not finished outside the top two all season with figures of 212 and his win came over course and distance in the Grade Two international, staying on strongly up the hill.

Course form at the festival is a huge positive and we believe this gives him a huge chance in conditions he should revel in.

Fussil Raffles

Trainer - Nicky Henderson

Jockey - Daryl Jacob

The second for the Munir and Soeude ownership is this five year old who looked a superstar last season but has come back a year older looking a worse horse.

He was unbeaten over rules as a four year old landing the Grade Two Juvenile hurdle on debut and then taking his first Grade One over in Ireland at the Punchestown festival.

He made his comeback at Wincanton in the Grade Two Elite Hurdle and although winning the contest he made hard work of it and it was not very impressive.

Boxing Day was the last time he was seen when he was pulled up in the Christmas Hurdle and there have been doubts ever since that run if he could return to his best.

Ballyandy

Trainer - Nigel Twiston-Davies

Jockey - Sam Twiston-Davies

A veteran that loves racing at Cheltenham and is very much proven at staying up the hill having landed the Champion Bumper back in 2016.

He was third in the Grade Three Coral Cup last year at the festival and since then has stepped into better races placing in the International Hurdle at Cheltenham before a staying on third in the Grade One Christmas Hurdle.

He finally got off the mark for the season at Haydock last time out in the Grade Two Champion Hurdle trial where he just outstayed Pentland Hills and that is strong form.

Silver Streak

Trainer - Evan Williams

Jockey - Adam Wedge

Silver Streak has gone under the radar in this contest with many thinking this is a weak Champion Hurdle and last season he was third in a much better event.

He started his season off with a win in a five runner Listed event at Kempton which was very impressive but since then he has bumper into some good horses.

He finished third behind Cornerstone Lad and Buveur D'Air and then stayed on well behind Epatante in the Christmas Hurdle which the mare ran away with.

That looks some decent form and he can't be overlooked off the back of his form in this race last season.

Not So Sleepy

Trainer - Hughie Morrison

Jockey - Jonathan Burke

Not So Sleepy took the division by storm when landing his first two races in very taking style winning at Ascot on his hurdles seasonal debut at Ascot and then backing that up over the same course and distance with a wide margin win.

He was a bright horse on the flat for his trainer but has been much better over hurdles and last time out he went off as the favourite for the Betfair Hurdle.

The ground was far too quick for the gelding who finished near the back of the field and if putting that behind him and getting back to his past form he is another you can't rule out.

Needs as much rain as possible.

Petit Mouchoir

Trainer - Henry De Bromhead

Jockey - Rachel Blackmore

The veteran nine year old has had a new lease of life this season placing in some superb races and there is no reason why he can't out run his odds of 25/1.

He has raced four times this season being poor on his seasonal return at Tipperary but since then has figures of 223 in Grade Ones in Ireland.

He finished second to Saldier at Punchestown in the Morgiana Hurdle seeing off Sharjah and Klassical Dream, Sharjah then reversed the form finishing ahead of him at Leopardstown over Christmas.

Again, in another superb contest he was leading the Irish Champion Hurdle after the last fence but was outstayed by Darver Star and Honeysuckle.

These are all stand out runs and it would not be surprise if he fell into the placings again at a track he is fond of.

Cornerstone Lad

Trainer - Micky Hammond

Jockey - Henry Brooke

Cornerstone Lad was one of the first horses to make his move on the Champion Hurdle when landing the first Grade One of his career in the Fighting Fifth, seeing off the injured Buveur D'Air in a superb battle to the finish.

It was then that the two time Champion Hurdle winner was ruled out for the season but Micky Hammond's gelding made the headlines and was primed for this race.

Since then he was third behind Pentland Hills and Ballyandy in the trial at Haydock and he looks out of favour if not reversing that form.

Loves heavy ground.

Darasso

Trainer - Joseph O'Brien

Jockey - Mark Walsh

A horse that offers so much potential but has not quite lived up to it this season hence his big price at the bottom of the market but if getting back to his form of last season has place claims.

Last season he finished his campaign off with two wins, one in a Grade Three at Gowran Park and then the other over fences at Navan in a decent Grade Two.

This year he was sent out late by O'Brien and went to Haydock in the Grade two Champion Hurdle Trial and finished a laboured fourth of four probably needing the run.

He was better last time out when second to Cilaos Emery at Gowran in the Grade Three he won the season before and he will have to come on for that.

Gumball

Trainer - Philip Hobbs

Jockey - Richard Johnson

Another horse at a big price is Gumball who is a very pacy two miler that does love it round Cheltenham finishing second twice with the last time coming in November in the Grade Three Greatwood Handicap Hurdle.

He has been trialled on the flat aswell during the summer winning twice on the all weather at Lingfield and Kempton before winning on the turf at Salisbury.

His last run saw him finish a weak 12th in the Betfair Hurdle and that is not strong enough form to see him win a Champion Hurdle.

Le Patriote

Trainer - Dr Richard Newland

Jockey - Charlie Hammond

The big outsider of the field and for a good reason is this eight year old who has been out of all ideas this season, looking very out of sorts.

Back in May last year he won a decent Grade Three at Haydock but since then this season has raced three times and his best place was a fourth of six on seasonal debut at Ascot.

He has to reverse the form with Call Me Lord on that and he is only a 20/1 shot but since that run he was last of eight at Cheltenham in the International Hurdle.

His final start saw him try his hand over fences for the first time where he was just as poor and it does not take a rocket scientist to see why he is 100/1.

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