Cheltenham Grade 1 Champion Hurdle Ante Post Guide

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BUVEUR D'AIR 6/4

Trainer - Nicky Henderson

Jockey - Barry Geraghty

The market leader and the winner of the last two renewals of this contest is going in search of his third consecutive Champion Hurdle which will set him up for Cheltenham Hall Of Fame status.

This season he has been hit and miss with on his first start he truly showed how good he was blowing the Grade 1 field apart at Newcastle in the fighting fifth beating Samcro comfortably.

His latest outing saw him suffer his first defeat in 12 races ending his unbeaten streak when stablemate Verdana Blue shockingly pipped him on the line to take the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton.

This has set doubt and moved the odds sightly for this big contest in March but on form alone he is still the one to beat if still the same horses as the last two years.

LAURINA 7/2

Trainer - Willie Mullins

Jockey - Ruby Walsh

The second favourite and one of the few mares in this contest see's the most exciting horse in training for Willie Mullins come to the party.

This horse is one of our most fancied picks for this race in the Ante Post market with how much potential she holds and her unbeaten record still in tact after five races.

She scored at Cheltenham last season with ease in the Mares Novice Hurdle on the Thursday and from there landed her first Grade 1 contest again with ease at Fairyhouse.

She made her belated return to racing last week at Sandown when only taking on one challenger in the Listed Mares Hurdle and hacked up, not coming off the bridle by 48 lengths. She is special.

MELON 8/1

Trainer - Willie Mullins

Jockey - Paul Townend

It would not be another sterling Champion Hurdle if Willie Mullins didn't have at least three horses involved and the second of his trio is last years narrow runner up Melon who is a very hard horse to win with.

This seven year old Gelding gave the performance of her career when nearly getting up to spoil the party for Buveur D'Air but since then has been hit and miss, falling in the Punchestown Champion Hurdle and then this season making an average seasonal reappearance in the Grade 1 Ryanair Hurdle.

We will truly know how ready this horse is for this race at the festival after he runs again but if he can reproduce that form of last season he has to be considered for a place.

SHARJAH 8/1

Trainer - Willie Mullins

Jockey - David Mullins

The final horse from the Mullins yard and one of the most progressive in training across the UK and Ireland is the Rich Ricci owned Sharjah.

He started this season with a lacklustre third at Down Royal behind Samcro but then he seemed to find his true potential to land the Grade 1 Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown.

Last time out he had his toughest test to date in the Ryanair Hurdle and he went from back to front in seconds to comfortably land the Grade 1 contest and firmly enter calculations for the Champion Hurdle.

This six year old could be the gamble of the festival with Mullins known for producing Champion Hurdle winners especially coming from horses owned by Rich Ricci, has to be taken seriously.

VERDANA BLUE 10/1

Trainer - Nicky Henderson

Jockey - Nico de Boinville

The second of Henderson's three pronged attack comes from one of this season's stand out progressive mares. This seven year old was never meant to be this good this year and was never thought about to be in contention for the Champion Hurdle.

She is one of the most frequently raced horses this year in the field running over hurdles and on the all weather with potential for the all weather championships at Lingfield still on the cards.

Her last performance has really turned heads and put her strongly into the fold for this race at a decent price after beating the two time winner of this race from her stables. Can not be over looked with her superb turn of foot in the finish to a race.

BRAIN POWER 16/1

Trainer - Nicky Henderson

Jockey - Jeremiah McGrath

The final horse from the seven barrows yard is the frustrating Brain Power who has come back onto the Champion Hurdle market off the back of his latest performance at Cheltenham when he took the Grade 2 International Hurdle with his first run over hurdles for two years.

He was never cut out to go over fences and never really lived up to his potential but over hurdles he is a different character and it was said that in training he is the only horse that can keep up with the superstar that is Altior.

If this is to be true and if finding the form from his last run and his previous hurdle outings a few years back he could spring a serious surprise.

SUPASUNDAE 16/1

Trainer - Jessica Harrington

Jockey - Robbie Power

The final horse that we think has a real chance of taking the Grade 1 is the Jessica Harrington trained Supasundae who has Grade 1 hurdle form to his name when taking the Punchestown Champion Hurdle.

He also has strong form when finishing runner up behind some classy horses with his seasonal reappearance a good second behind the ultra talented Apple's Jade in the Grade 1 Hatton's Grace Hurdle.

His latest outing again was a strong second at Leopardstown behind Sharjah in the Ryanair Hurdle, but he will need to reverse this form if he is to have a real chance of landing this contest.

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