The 2019 running of the Champion Hurdle was won by Espoir Allen who was priced at 17.0 (16/1). This was an outsider trained by Graham Cromwell who had the stamina to come out on top of the first grade one race at the Cheltenham Festival last year.
The big favourite on the top bookie William Hill for the race was Buveur d’Air who fell at the third hurdle out and was a shock to many that the horse didn’t make it three wins in a row. Buveur d’Air had looked unstoppable coming into the race having won in 2017 priced at 6.0 (5/1). Nicky Henderson’s horse followed up that win in 2018 when priced odds on at 1.67 (4/6).
Looking at further winners of the race in the past, it was super Irish Trainer Willie Mullins who came out on top in 2015 and 2016 as the winners were Faugheen and Annie Power respectively.
The Irish have had a very good record in this race-winning this race in five out of the last seven years. This is a key point as we look to find the value bets for which horses are likely to run very well in this top race.
A few horses have impressed so far this season and these include Epatante. This has been the star horse over the hurdles this year and the key race which moved Epatante to clear favouritism was the Christmas Hurdle in December 2019 at Kempton which the horse won by five lengths and looked very impressive. The horse trained by Nicky Henderson looked well primed for the race and will be very hard to beat. Before this race Epatante won a listed race at Newbury so is looking in top form.
Another horse who has also looked good this year is Pentland Hills. The horse also trained by Nicky Henderson has good form at Cheltenham Festival winning the Triumph Hurdle last year and there is no reason why the horse can’t follow up that win by winning the opening ‘Grade 1’ race of this year’s festival.
It’s always good to follow a horse who wins at Cheltenham Festival as you do see horses enjoy running at certain racecourses so this is a major advantage in punters looking to back Pentland Hills.
Elsewhere you can’t look at Willie Mullins training the winner having proven pedigree after training Annie Power and Faugheen to victory in this race. Mullins is likely to have Saldier and Sharjah in his stable to challenge for the Champion Hurdle this year and you wouldn’t be surprised if Mullins gets his horses primed to challenge for the major honours.
There have been 36 entries into the Unibet champion Hurdle this year and it promises to be a very competitive race. Although Epatante 4.5 (7/2) and Pentland Hills 9.0 (8/1) dominate the betting and also both trained by Nicky Henderson, the chasing back will be looking to cause a surprise.
One horse that is in a recent good form is Honeysuckle 9.0 (8/1). This horse trained by Henry de Bromhead has won six races in a row and unbeaten. The horse does lack a little bit of experience but in the wins so far has looked very comfortable over hurdles and has quietly impressed.
Last year’s third horse Silver Streak is a notable horse entered in the race and priced at 34.0 (33/1). This horse has course form and there is more than a chance this horse can get a place again in this race.
Two horses who are priced at the front of the market are Sadlier 8.5 (15/2) and Sharjah 11.0 (10/1) and with the Irish having a strong recent record, Willie Mullins’ horses will be in the shakeup for sure.
Our top pick for the Champion Hurdle is Pentland Hills. The winner of the Triumph Hurdle last year at Cheltenham Festival plus an Aintree Hurdle is primed to run well at the festival this year. With trainer Nicky Henderson ready to pounce again in the race, the talented horse can deliver again.
At a bigger price, Silver Streak can outrun a big price at 34.0 (33/1) to repeat last year’s top performance and be placed in the first three horses. The horse who ran on well last year can use that experience and at least repeat the third-place finish
9.0 (8/1) Pentland Hills to win the Champion Hurdle
34.0 (33/1) Silver Streak each-way 1/5 the odds 3 places to win Champion Hurdle