Irish Champion Hurdle Guide

1. Melon

Trainer - Willie Mullins

Jockey -

Plenty to like about his fourth on his comeback over Christmas in the Ryanair Hurdle to stable companion Sharjah.

Should be back at his peak now, and will use this as a stepping stone to have another crack at Buveur D'Air in the Champion Hurdle in March, a race he lost by just a neck last term.

Ruby Walsh reports the horse to be in fine order, so all systems go.

2. Petit Mouchoir

Trainer - Henry De Bromhead

Jockey -

Just one season over fences was enough for De Bromhead to pull the plug on that idea.

Fell away in last year's Arkle tamely after going off far too quickly and keenly, and connections will hope a return to hurdles will bring about his best once more.

Decent hurdler back in his day with some top form, including finishing third in the 2017 Champion Hurdle, and perhaps his run here over Christmas was just a freshen-up.

3. Supasundae

Trainer - Jessica Harrington

Jockey -

Jessie Harrington's star hurdler can be renamed Mr Consistent when he retires, as he has only been unplaced once in his last thirteen outings - a run that stretches back to New Years Eve in 2016.

He is in smashing form, and has recorded several big race wins - including the Punchestown Champion Hurdle, the Coral Cup at the Cheltenham Festival, and of course his memorable win in this contest twelve months ago - becoming then only the second horse to beat Faugheen when standing up to his obstacles.

Second to Sharjah over Christmas, but will go very close here.

4. Tombstone

Trainer - Gordon Elliott

Jockey -

Famous of course for his part in the infamous piece of form gathered after the 2016 Supreme Novice at the Cheltenham Festival.

However twelve months after that, he only beat three home in a twenty-five runner field in the Coral Cup - behind Supasundae, and had a stint chasing - but that did not go all according to plan.

Been hurdling again this term, and was in fact much closer to Jessica Harrington's gelding this time when finishing third in that Grade One Ryanair over Christmas.

Admittable chances.

5. Farclas

Trainer - Gordon Elliott

Jockey -

Incredible to think Farclas is only five years old, and has raced only six times over hurdles but yet somehow has a Cheltenham Festival success to his name.

That of course came in the JCB Triumph nearly eleven months ago when disappointing Apples Shakira, but like the mare, Farclas has found it hard work since.

Three efforts - all out of the placings, including a fall at Limerick over the festive season.

Work to do and much to prove.

6. Apples Jade

Trainer - Gordon Elliott

Jockey -

The one they have all come to beat. Star mare Apple's Jade, in receipt of 7lb from all bar one of her rivals can use that to her advantage once again as she goes in search of a fourteenth career success.

Three from three this term - all under the odds of even money, she streaked clear to land the Christmas Hurdle here; albeit Faugheen fell two out when in with every chance.

Many would of expected the mare to still land the spoils, and although dropping to two miles for the first time since November 2016, she is expected to come through with as many as three options at the Cheltenham Festival all crying out for her name.

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