Cheltenham Champion Hurdle
Cheltenham Festival race guide – The Champion Hurdle
The highlight of the first day of racing, and a return to Cheltenham for last year’s winner – Hurricane Fly. Willie Mullins’ representative made an eye-catching reappearance when winning at Leopardstown in January and he must go close again in his bid to defend his crown. He’s currently odds against with all bookmakers to land this championship race for the second consecutive year, although 2010 victor Binocular will prove no pushover after missing the Festival twelve months ago. Zarkandar stayed on well under pressure to take last month’s Betfair Hurdle and he should make a bold bid too.
Champion Hurdle Form
The form in the run up to this race can prove a good starting point when analysing the chances of each runner. Irish horses have a decent record in this one so it might be worth monitoring the Irish Champion Hurdle which is scheduled to take place at Leopardstown in late January. Many horses who competed in the 2010 Champion Hurdle at the festival will tackle this trip once more so be sure to analyse their performances from twelve months ago. Still unsure what to back? Take in other trial runs such as the International Hurdle at Cheltenham in December, which in essence is a dress rehearsal of the big race in March where horses can sample course and conditions.
In the past runnings of this event, longshots have defied their odds. The aforementioned Punjabi held on gamely in 2009 scoring by a neck at 22/1, he was also third the previous year at 25/1. Sublimity in 2007 won at 16/1 also, so there is value to be had in the Champion Hurdle but just a word on those gunning for Binocular – he was a beaten 6/4 favourite in 2009 and is likely to go off market leader after his win last year. McCoy rode him to victory last time, but how will the horse fair this time?
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