Champion Hurdle tips and runners for the 2021 Cheltenham Festival

The big race on day one looks set to be a cracker.

Champion Hurdle

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*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change

The cream of the hurdling crop will tackle the Champion Hurdle – and the 2021 renewal looks set to be a treat. Quite simply, it’s the big one on a bumper first day of action at Prestbury Park.

Eight hurdles. 2 miles and 87 yards. The Old Course. It’s one hell of a race. Oh, and it’s also the last leg of the Triple Crown of Hurdling, following the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle and the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton Park.

DON’T MISS: CHELTENHAM TIPS – OUR PUNDITS’ CHEAT SHEET FOR ALL WEDNESDAY’S RACES

A string of legendary horses have landed the race including three-time winners Istabraq, Hatton’s Grace, Sir Ken, Persian War and See You Then. The likes of Annie Power, Faugheen and Hurricane Fly have claimed glory in more recent years – all with our very own Ruby Walsh on board.

Epatante is aiming for back-to-back wins after edging out Sharjah by three lengths last year. The seven-year-old was the antepost favourite with Paddy, despite a shock defeat to Silver Streak in the Christmas Hurdle on Boxing Day, although Honeysuckle has climbed to the top of the betting after winning the Irish Champion Hurdle. Goshen also bounced back in time for the trip to Prestbury Park by winning a Grade 2 at Wincanton in February to add extra spice to the renewal.

CHAMPION HURDLE ODDS

FULL PREVIEW: CHAMPION HURDLE RUNNER-BY-RUNNER GUIDE

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CHAMPION HURDLE TIPS

Timeform:HONEYSUCKLE has a Timeform rating 3lb higher than last year’s Champion Hurdle winner Epatante, who had been a deserving favourite in light of the paucity of credible rivals. However, she now looms large and is the one to beat.”

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Ruby Walsh: “Before Christmas I would have fancied Epatante but since the Irish Champion Hurdle, I would be all over HONEYSUCKLE

FULL PREVIEW: RUBY WALSH’S CHAMPION HURDLE ANTEPOST BEST BET

Frank Hickey: “I would definitely have HONEYSUCKLE over Epatante and ASPIRE TOWER has a great chance of hitting the frame, but I don’t think he will shorten up that much”

FULL PREVIEW: FRANK HICKEY’S CHAMPION HURDLE ANTEPOST TIPS

Matt Chapman: “For me the two who could be outstanding hurdlers are Honeysuckle and GOSHEN, and I will pray the latter scores for Jamie and Gary Moore.”

FULL PREVIEW: MATT CHAPMAN’S BEST BETS FOR DAY ONE OF THE 2021 CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL

Tony Mullins: “I’m going to go for ABACADABRAS. If this lad gets a chance off the last bend, he’ll win.”

Nina Carberry:ABACADABRAS could run a big race and it’ll really suit him. He has the tow and there’s more improvement in him.”

FULL PREVIEW: CHAMPION HURDLE ANTEPOST BETS FROM TONY MULLINS AND NINA CARBERRY

Gina Bryce: “It has taken a while for him to show that former brilliance this season but based on what we saw at Wincanton last time, my suspicion is that GOSHEN is capable of something out of the ordinary here again.”

FULL PREVIEW: GINA BRYCE’S BEST BETS FOR DAY ONE OF THE 2021 CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL

Mick Fitzgerald: “The two mares Epatante and HONEYSUCKLE are at the top of the market. I saw something with Honeysuckle last time out at Leopardstown that I didn’t think she was capable of.”

FULL PREVIEW: MICK FITZGERALD’S BEST BETS FOR DAY ONE OF THE FESTIVAL

Paddy Power: “I’m going for EPATANTE here and this is my NAP of the day. I’m forgiving when it got beat by Silver Streak last time out but the Henderson yard was a little quiet back then.”

FULL PREVIEW: PADDY POWER’S CHELTENHAM TIPS FOR TUESDAY AS EPATANTE FAVOURED TO HONEYSUCKLE

Rachael Blackmore Honeysuckle Cheltenham March 10, 2020

CHAMPION HURDLE TRAINERS’ VERDICTS

Gary Moore, trainer of Goshen: “It’s all been very good since Wincanton. We’re very much looking forward to it, we couldn’t have him any better and soft ground would be fine for him. When he won the Kingwell he made it look so easy, so the only worry in my mind is that the others may have underachieved but he did nothing wrong. We’ve learned a bit more about how to ride him throughout the season. He’s got to give plenty of weight away to some good mares, which is never easy, but he’s a big strong horse so that may help him. I think he’ll run a great race, I really do.”

Denise Foster, trainer of Abacadabras: “The whole team here are delighted with him. He’s going there in really good form. We didn’t see the real Abacadabras at Christmas, but he took a step forward in the Irish Champion Hurdle. He’s been to Cheltenham twice and ran really well there twice, so I’d like to think that he will be heavy involved at the business end.”

Henry de Bromhead, trainer of Aspire Tower and Honeysuckle: “Honey seems great. She travelled over well and there isn’t a bother on her. The rain on Sunday night was a bonus, but to be honest she seems fine on all sorts of ground. Once it’s safe, jumping ground that’s all that matters to her. She goes into the race in great shape. Robbie [Power] had a sit on Aspire Tower on Monday morning and he seemed very happy afterwards. He’s in really good form too.”

Willie Mullins, trainer of James Du Berlais, Saldier and Sharjah: “The ground is drying out nicely for Sharjah. With the strong pace up front, he could be landing on tired horses in the last couple of furlongs. He ran well in this race last year and must have a great chance this time round. James Du Berlais was primarily bought to go novice chasing next season. However, on his French form and rating he has a chance of getting into the first four here. Saldier has still not returned to his best form but has been trained specially for this. The likely strong early pace will suit and a change of tactics from Leopardstown last time might also help.”

Today at Cheltenham…

Hughie Morrison, trainer of Not So Sleepy: “I think Honeysuckle will be very difficult to beat. If we hadn’t unseated and then wiped out Silver Streak, who knows what might have happened against Epatante at Newcastle. Last year Not So Sleepy had been on the go a long time, while he’s very hard on himself at home. We got tempted by the Betfair Hurdle last year but this year he wasn’t the same horse as he had been at Ascot. That made us determined to leave him quiet for six weeks and then train him for this race. If he turns up in the right mood I think he has a chance of being third or fourth.”

Evan Williams, trainer of Silver Streak: “I’m delighted with him. It’s no secret the rain they’ve had won’t be any help to us. But that’s the reality. He’s in great order but we could have done without the rain. We’ll take what we’re given. It’s dreadfully unlucky on Adam [Wedge] but we are fortunate that Thomas [O’Brien] has got a good record on the horse.”

Nicky Henderson, trainer of Epatante: “Everything’s gone well. We have to put a line through the Christmas Hurdle because if she runs to that she isn’t going to win here. It wasn’t the same mare who won the Christmas Hurdle the previous year, or the Champion Hurdle or Fighting Fifth. I was rather hoping for better ground than we’re going to get now and there’s no doubt it’s a much stronger heat than last year. I’m never confident, but after this morning I wouldn’t be confident about anything.”

All the trainers were speaking to the Racing Post

WHEN IS THE CHAMPION HURDLE?

The Champion Hurdle takes place on Tuesday March 16, on the first day of the Cheltenham Festival 2021. It’s scheduled to start at 15.05.

CHAMPION HURDLE WINNERS AT THE LAST FIVE FESTIVALS

2020 – Epatante (Horse), Barry Geraghty (Jockey), Nicky Henderson (Trainer)

2019 – Espoir D’Allen, Mark Walsh, Gavin Cromwell

2018 – Buveur D’Air, Barry Geraghty, Nicky Henderson

2017 – Buveur D’Air, Noel Fehily, Nicky Henderson

2016 – Annie Power, Ruby Walsh, Willie Mullins

CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL‘S BIG RACES

March 16 – 13.20 – Supreme Novices’ Hurdle latest odds and tips

March 16 – 13.55 – Arkle Chase latest odds and tips

March 16 – 15.05 – Champion Hurdle latest odds and tips

March 16 – 15.40 – Mares’ Hurdle latest odds and tips

March 17 – 13.20 – Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle latest odds and tips

March 17 – 13.55 – Festival Novices’ Chase latest odds and tips

March 17 – 15.05 – Queen Mother Champion Chase latest odds and tips

March 17 – 16.50 – Champion Bumper latest odds and tips

March 18 – 13.20 – Marsh Novices’ Chase latest odds and tips

March 18 – 14.30 – Ryanair Chase latest odds and tips

March 18 – 15.05 – Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle latest odds and tips

March 19 – 13.20 – Triumph Hurdle latest odds and tips

March 19 – 14.30 – Albert Bartlett Novices’ Chase latest odds and tips

March 19 – 15.05 – Gold Cup latest odds and tips

March 19 – 16.15 – Mrs Paddy Power Mares’ Chase latest odds and tips

    CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL DAY ONE SCHEDULE

    13:20 – Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 87y

    13.55 – Arkle Chase (Grade 1) 1m 7f 199y

    14.30 – Ultima Handicap Chase (Grade 3) 3m 1f

    15.05 – Champion Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 87y

    15.40 – Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 3f 200y

    16.15 – Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) 2m 87y

    16.50 – National Hunt Chase (Grade 2) 3m 5f 201y

    *Paddy will be all over your telly box throughout the Cheltenham Festival sponsoring ITV’s live coverage from Prestbury Park – and you can get free and exclusive tipping columns EVERY DAY from Ruby Walsh, Matt Chapman and Mick Fitzgerald here on PP News.

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