Champion Hurdle Guide

1. BRAIN POWER

Trainer - Nicky Henderson

Jockey - Nico De Boinville

Useful hurdler back in the day, who never really fulfilled his potential as a chaser - despite nabbing a tailed-off second in the Arkle last year.

Reverted back to hurdles for the International at Cheltenham back in December, and although not completely fluent, he ran on strongly to claim Grade Two honours.

Chance on that basis, but must run a career best here to make the frame.

2. BUVEUR D'AIR

T - Nicky Henderson

J - Barry Geraghty

The dual Champion of the race bids for immortality this year, looking to add his name to the list of hat-trick winners.

Last completed by Istabraq in the same colours at the turn of the century, Buveur D'Air was beaten for only the second time in his career at Kempton over Christmas by stablemate Verdana Blue.

Conditions will not be that quick here, so the ground is back in his favour.

Looks his toughest ask yet, but remains the one to beat here.

3. ESPOIR D'ALLEN

T - Gavin Cromwell

J -

Top form over in Ireland, only being defeated once in nine career starts in bumpers or over hurdles.

Progressive - wins this term all coming in Grade Three's at Naas twice and Limerick in between.

This might be a little too much to ask, with even the trainer confirming that he does not have the required attributes to beat the likes of Buveur D'Air.

5. GLOBAL CITIZEN

T - Ben Pauling

J - David Bass

Sharp display from the front end at Newbury could not be successfully replicated in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton.

Returned to win the Champion Hurdle Trial at Haydock in January on next start, but has many lengths to find on the likes of Buveur D'Air here.

Top horse in his own right, but must outrun his mark by a good stone-and-a-half; which is hard to see him doing so.

Will be one of the candidates disputing the early running, so do expect to hear his name plenty in commentary.

6. MELON

T - Willie Mullins

J -

Last year's runner up has arguably shown his best touch at Cheltenham in the past, and will look to run another blinder in this top contest.

Disappointed this term, and was well adrift of Apple's Jade in the Irish Champion Hurdle at the Dublin Racing Festival last time out.

Runner-up in the Supreme in 2017, keep an eye on the market with this one.

8. SHARJAH

T - Willie Mullins

J -

Done nothing wrong this term, beating the likes of top Irish counterparts Faugheen, Samcro and Supasundae all convincingly.

Winner of the Galway Hurdle last summer, he has evolved from his eighth-placed finish in last year's Supreme to be a valid contender for this.

Much more required needed, but open to further progression.

Interesting.

9. SILVER STREAK

T - Evan Williams

J - Adam Wedge

Another talented grey in the field, arrives here in good form from throughout the season, which includes two second-placed finishes here.

His runners-up medal in a heavily hurdle-omitted Greatwood Handicap Hurdle where he gave almost two stone to the winner, was followed by another good effort when a length down on Brain Power in the International.

Second again to Global Citizen in the Unibet Hurdle at Haydock, so work to do on those around him in the market, let-alone the front trio.

12. APPLE'S JADE

T - Apple's Jade

J -

First of the three Mares ready to stamp their authority on the race: Apple's Jade, four from four this season over three different distances, and yet connections feel this is the best destination for her.

Her win in the Christmas Hurdle over three was mesmerising, but her display over two proving her versatility was spell-bounding, and that her speed is just one of her finest attributes.

Sixteen length winner that day, will be hard to stop from the front end again and will be in receipt of 7lbs from all male horses.

Will need to amend last year's third in Mares with rumoured excuses, but does have Festival form aside from that.

13. LAURINA

T - Willie Mullins

J - Ruby Walsh

The young pretender - Laurina, sensational winner of the Mares Novice last term would arguably walk the Mares Hurdle this season if she went for it.

Mullins is well represented there with Benie Des Dieux, so fancies a crack at the big one with this daughter of Spanish Moon, and rightly so.

Two wins this term - one of which was in a match-up at Sandown to warm up the legs.

She took the Annie Power route through the Quevega Hurdle at Punchestown where she came through unscathed, and looks a big big danger if living up to her name here. Massive chance and is exciting.

14. VERDANA BLUE

T - Nicky Henderson

J -

Upset everyone by getting the better of stable companion Buveur D'Air in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton.

The ground was ever so quick that day, and highly unlikely conditions would be in the same favour.

Even more unlikely to run if the ground comes up soft or worse, but could have a decisive part to play.

FESTIVAL BETTING TIPS & MORE

Champs Day gets the Festival underway with The Champion Hurdle race going off at 3.30. If you'd like more information on what's happening for the day itself checkout our Cheltenham Festival page. You'll find a detailed break down of all races on during the Festival period, along with tips, insight and much more.

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