The countdown is on for the 2021 Cheltenham Festival, and any horseracing fan, or punter for that matter, will know that the main event on the opening day of the meeting is the Champion Hurdle.
The race is run on the Old Course, over a distance of roughly two and a half miles, with eight hurdles to be jumped. More importantly, the race is the final leg in the Triple Crown of Hurdling. If you’re eager to check out the latest Cheltenham ante post betting tips, read on as we round-up some of the most recent names to win the feature race and hear that famous Cheltenham roar.
Epatante was the first mare since Annie Power four years previous, to win the Champion Hurdle. The 2/1 favourite ridden by popular jockey Barry Geraghty, handed owner JP McManus a fourth successive win in the race, after she beat Sharjah by three lengths. The mare is the favourite once again this year, according to the latest Champion Hurdle odds, with the winner of the Irish Champion Hurdle, Honeysuckle, also chomping at the bit for a place in the winner’s enclosure at the Cheltenham namesake.
2019: Espoir d’Allen
16/1 chance Espoir d’Allen caused a shock, winning the 2019 Champion Hurdle. The favourite was Apple’s Jade, who could only finish in eighth, while the previous winner Buveur d’Air fell at the third hurdle. It marked a fourth successive win for the gelding, and a ninth out of 10 starts in his career. The margin of victory was a superior 15 lengths, over Melon, who was at odds of 20/1. However, after rearing up and suffering a shoulder injury in a freak accident, while cantering, Espoir d’Allen had to be put down at the age of five, later that year.
2018: Buveur d’Air
It was back-to-back wins for all connected with Buveur d’Air, as the French-bred horse beat Melon by a neck to secure a memorable victory in the day’s centrepiece. Sadly, there was no hero’s hat-trick the following year, but Geraghty rode a thrilling race to ensure the favourite earned the plaudits. After 204 days out, the 10-year-old recently returned to action at Haydock, and Nicky Henderson has revealed that the gelding will feature again in this year’s Champion Hurdle. Could he make it that third win, against the odds?
2017: Buveur d’Air
At odds of 5/1, Buveur was one of the front-runners for success in the 2017 edition of the race – having won his previous four races, and two of which, were over hurdles. Noel Fehily was in the saddle as the gelding stormed to victory, by four-and-a-half lengths over stablemate My Tent Or Yours, ensuring that the trainer/owner duo of Henderson and McManus entered the record books for being the most successful, respectably, in the race. Buveur won his remaining race that season, and went on to have a good 2018…
2016: Annie Power It was third time lucky for Annie Power at the Cheltenham Festival, and emotions ran high as the mare won the Champion Hurdle, by four-and-a-half lengths over My Tent Or Yours. After finishing second in 2014’s Stayers’ Hurdle, and the following year, falling at the final hurdle when in complete control of the Mares’ Hurdle, trainer Willie Mullins could finally breathe a sigh of relief. Annie Power became the first mare since Flakey Dove in 1994 to win the Champion Hurdle, and she won her final race the following month at Aintree. She was retired in 2017.