Why Is The Champion Hurdle Division So Open?

Champion Hurdle

A race that has been one of the stand out events at the Cheltenham festival over the years, for the last few seasons has been left fairly open with plenty of horses in with a chance and this season it has become even more apparent.

This season has already shown us that not one horse really wants to be the favourite for the feature Grade One contest on the first day of the festival with now three horses all having their time at the top of the market.

Klassical Dream for Willie Mullins started the season off as favourite before any horse had run and to many was a strange market leader with him coming out of Novice company for the first time.

However, this all changed and the five year old was taken out of the hotspot when getting beat by his stablemate Saldier and he was sent straight to the top of the market after landing the Grade One Morgiana Hurdle.

He was also joined by the dual winner of the race in 2017 and 2018 with Buveur D'Air getting some market support off the back of Klassical Dream's poor seasonal bow.

Many thought that Nicky Henderson's Champion Hurdle winner should have been the opening favourite for the race off the back of his record in the event and if not falling in last season's, arguably he would have gone on to win the race.

However, running with the common theme of the division he also has drifted in the market and is likely to miss the contest now after picking up an injury in the Grade One Fighting Fifth last Saturday.

He finished a narrow second to Cornerstone Lad in the black type contest but it was revealed after the race that when hitting the second to last flight he got a piece of wood lodged in his hoof and he has since been operated on.

So with Buveur D'Air now potentially out of the contest it was Saldier's turn to give the favourite status to someone else after Mullins revealed this week that his hurdling star did not come out of the Morgiana Hurdle well and will now not be seen again until the new year, which is not a positive.

This has now lead to the bookmakers not truly knowing how to price up the most likely runners for the Grade One in March with many horses on the periphery of favouritism.

Big movers in the market after the events of the last month have seen Henderson's other fancies in the race, Triumph Hurdle winner Pentland Hills and Fussil Raffles creep in slightly.

For the time being, the original favourite Klassical Dream has gone back to the head of proceedings but some newcomers have become intriguing to punters with novice star Envoi Allen and Henry De Bromhead's Honeysuckle now likely challengers to possibly run in the contest that is falling apart.

The Champion Hurdle is one of the feature races of the meeting but for the last few seasons has become a division that is so open that punters are left more times than not out of pocket and it looks like this season will be no different unless we get an outstanding individual performance.