Cheltenham 2021: Your Top 10 Champion Hurdle Questions Answered

The euphoric roar which greets the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival is a sight to behold as punters from all over the world signal the start of the world's biggest National Hunt Racing Festival. Held over four days, Cheltenham is most famed for the Gold Cup, but it’s also known for being packed full of Grade One races, and the primary contest on the opening day is The Champion Hurdle.

If you’re heading to the festival the chances are you’ll have already begun browsing the ante-post horse racing betting markets in search of the headline runners many of which could be mentioned our Cheltenham Tips. But if you’re new to the sport, then we’ve picked out the top pieces of info to help you get to grips with the Champion Hurdle.

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What Prize Money Is On Offer For Winning The Champion Hurdle?

For runners and riders heading into the Champion Hurdle, the potential prize money on offer sits at around £450,000 making it one of the most expensive hurdle races to be held across the UK National Hunt Season.

What Is The Distance Of The Champion Hurdle?

Run on the Old Course at Cheltenham, the Champion Hurdle is raced over a distance of 2 miles and 1/2 furlong and is the final leg of the Hurdling Triple Crown, which means that runners who’ve taken part in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle and The Christmas Hurdle tend to feature here.

How Many Hurdles Will Be Jumped In The Champion Hurdle?

Due to the short distance of this race, horses will only need to navigate 8 hurdles when completing a circuit of the Cheltenham course.

Which Cheltenham Course Is The Champion Hurdle Run On?

With the racing being run on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival, it will be one of the first races to be run on the Old Course. This means the run in will be shorter and the incline will be less for runners, but it also means they’ll need to start the race off strongly and in a prime position.

Who Won The 2020 Champion Hurdle?

The 2020 Champion Hurdle was won by heavy favourite - Epatante. However, despite having the largest field for the race. Many were disappointed at the lack of capable runners who could have beaten Epatante with many either not taking part at all or taking part in a different race. Epatante won convincingly and it was only 16/1 shot Sharjah who posed any sort of threat towards the six-year old who was the third youngest runner in the race.

Who Are The Horses To Watch in 2021?

The current ante post betting market has rather an open look to it for the Champion Hurdle, the two current favourites are Honeysuckle and last years winner - Epatante. Epatante will likely be the biggest challenge that Honeysuckle has faced yet if last years performance is repeated. However, the unbeaten Honeysuckle can be found at great odds of 9/4. Which have now decreased from 7/1 earlier in the year.

Further down the betting, a popular bet will be the horse who actually beat Epatante in their last battle - Silver Streak. In the Kempton Winter race, Epatante went in as 1/5 favourite but was upset by the 7/1 horse. It is worth noting that this race is slightly longer than the Kempton Winter race but not long enough that it would have changed the outcome on that occasion

Which Races Can Influence The 2021 Champion Hurdle

The concluding part of the hurdling triple crown which includes The Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle which was won by Epatante, but saw the horse face very little competition and the Christmas Hurdle which was won by Silver Streak, both of these races have a bearing on which horses may actually head to the Champion Hurdle.

Who Was The Last Champion Hurdle To Retain Their Crown?

Punters don’t have to go back too far to find the last winner to retain their Champion Hurdle crown as that’s Buveur d’Air, and although there have been some top-class winners including Faugheen, Annie Power, Hurricane Fly and Rock On Ruby who’ve managed to claim a victory in the race, none of them have managed to win it more than once. We’ve mentioned the Nicky Henderson starlet enough, so we’re going back even further to 2004 and 2005 where Dessie Hughes and Hardy Eustance won in emphatic fashion for the Irish. But if you’re looking for horses with three wins to their name, then it's hard to ignore the likes of Istabraq and See You Then.

Which Jockey Has The Most Champion Chase Wins?

There are two jockeys we can consider in this category one is Tim Molony who rose to success in the 1950s, and the second is Ruby Walsh, who is our focus. Winning this race on four occasions twice with Hurricane, and then for Willie Mullins aboard Faugheen and Annie Power, Walsh was a powerhouse of National Hunt racing winning every prize on offer.

Which Trainer Has The Most Champion Chase Wins?

Here there is only one man we can focus on and this is the unstoppable Nicky Henderson. Winning this race on 7 occasions since 1985 and most recently in 2018, the Newmarket-based trainer has an exceptional record of sending top class runners to Cheltenham and it looks as though he can potentially add another to that tally here.

The opening feature race of the Cheltenham Festival always has the potential to throw up some interesting results and many trainers looking to cement some early dominance on the festival with a win here. So who is your top chance to win the race? Let us know and if you follow our tipster, see if they can pick out the winner.

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