Published on March 12th, 2013 | by Atholl Blair6
Champion Hurdle Stats, Trends, Tips, Odds & Offers
Every year in March, on the opening day of the world famous Cheltenham Festival, the Champion Hurdle takes place. This is a Grade 1 National Hunt Hurdle Race which is open to any horse aged four years or older. It takes place over a distance of two miles and 110 yards and there are eight hurdles to be jumped by the horses during the race. This is the most prestigious of hurdling events in the British racing calendar with many of the best hurdlers in history having made this their stomping ground.
The History Of The Champion Hurdle
The first Champion Hurdle was run in 1927, although details are a little sketchy as to what prompted the formation of this particular race. Whilst it had a fairly large prize fund, that being £365 in its first year, for a long while the Champion Hurdle failed to attract many participants. This hit a low in 1932 when only three horses competed in the race. Like most races there was a temporary halt to the proceedings during World War II with it being cancelled twice, once in 1943 and the second time in 1944.
As Britain recovered from World War II, it seemed like British Racing discovered a new lease of life, and the Champion Hurdle was no exception to that rule. After the conclusion of the war, trainers and jockeys flocked to the event in order to prove themselves. This eventually led to five horses going down in history as winning the race three times, with Sir Ken being the most famous of these.
Of course, running a race of this caliber involved a lot of costs, and thus, like many other races, the Champion Hurdle needed to attract sponsors. In 1978 it succeeded in its goal when it managed to attract Waterford Crystal as a sponsor, which in turn saw an increase in the prize money offered.
Unlike some other races on the British Racing Calendar, for a long time the winners of the Champion Hurdle were fairly predictable, mainly because this type of race was very limited and thus the same horses ran it time and time again. This is perhaps why Sir Ken went down in history because he was so nailed on to win the race he had odds of 2/5. Thankfully though, in recent years the event has soared in popularity which has led to a number of competitors and this has increased the challenge for the horses. As a result there hasn’t been a triple winner since 2000 when Istabraq completed a 1998, 1999 and 2000 treble. He was on course to win for a fourth time, but the whole of the Cheltenham Festival was cancelled in 2001 due to outbreaks of Foot and Mouth Disease in the United Kingdom.
In more recent times the Champion Hurdle has become the final race in the ‘Road to Cheltenham’ series of hurdle races sponsored by the bookmakers Stan James (who are the current sponsors) and it’s safe to say that it’s now firmly earned its place as the most prestigious hurdle event in the world.
Previous Champion Hurdle Winners
Although I’ve been a keen horse racing punter since around 1989, my first proper recollection of the Champion Hurdle was when I backed Alderbrook to win in 1995. Even that is a hazy memory however and it wasn’t until I saw the mighty Istabraq winning in three successive years between 1998 and 2000 that the race really caught my attention. Funnily enough, the Champion Hurdle has never been a great race for me betting-wise as I had to wait another 12 years, believe it or not, for Rock On Ruby to put me back on the scoresheet again with his win in 2012 – at the strangely coincidental odds of 11/1!
Here are the horses who have found success in the Champion Hurdle in the last 10 years:
|2012||Rock On Ruby (IRE)||11/1||Nicholls, P F||7||165||Fehily, Noel|
|2011||Hurricane Fly (IRE)||11/4||Mullins, W P||7||167||Walsh, R|
|2010||Binocular (FR)||9/1||Henderson, N J||6||163||McCoy, A P|
|2009||Punjabi||22/1||Henderson, N J||6||163||Geraghty, B J|
|2008||Katchit (IRE)||10/1||King, A||5||159||Thornton, Robert|
|2007||Sublimity (FR)||16/1||Carr, John G||7||0||Carberry, P A|
|2006||Brave Inca (IRE)||7/4||Murphy, C A||8||0||McCoy, A P|
|2005||Hardy Eustace (IRE)||7/2||Hughes, D T||8||0||ODwyer, C|
|2004||Hardy Eustace (IRE)||33/1||Hughes, D T||7||0||ODwyer, C|
|2003||Rooster Booster||9/2||Hobbs, P J||9||167||Johnson, Richard|
The most successful horse to win the Champion Hurdle since Istabraq in 2000 has been Hardy Eustace, who won the race in 2004 and again in 2005, then finished 3rd and 4th in the following two years. Now retired, Hardy Eustace was still amazingly winning Grade 1 races at the ripe old age of 11 years old!
Here’s a video of the most recent running of the Champion Hurdle in 2012:
Champion Hurdle Stats & Trends
With six of the last ten Champion Hurdle winners priced at 9/1 or bigger, and two of those priced at massive odds of 22/1 and 33/1, this hasn’t been the easiest race for punters over the years. That said, there are some quite decisive stats and trends that can help point us in the direction of the winner…
- AGE: This is one of the most crucial factors, because Katchit was the first 5yo to win the Champion Hurdle since 1985 and there has only been three winners over the age of 8yo in the last 58 years, so ideally you need a horse who is aged between 6 and 8 years old.
- FORM: In the last 28 years, which is quite decisive, 24 of the winners of the Champion Hurdle came into the race off the back of a win in their previous race. In fact, if you look back through history this particular stat holds up almost since the time when the race began!
- COURSE FORM: Over the last 18 runnings of the race 14 winners had either won or finished second at the Cheltenham Festival before and 17 of the last 23 winners had won a race at Cheltenham before, so it’s safe to say that this race definitely isn’t for Cheltenham virgins.
- RECENT FORM: I’m making quite a big deal of the form here, simply because it’s rather important. 17 of the last 18 winners had all had a race in the current calendar year, which counts against both Grandouet and Cinders And Ashes, neither of which has run this year.
- ODDS: This is no big surprise. Even though there has been some fancy prices amongst the winning ranks in the Champion Hurdle, 19 of the last 20 winners actually came from the first six in the betting and I think it’s highly doubtful that this is likely to change this year either.
There are other bits and bobs that I could throw at you here, but I don’t think it’s necessary to be honest. If you whittle down the field using the information I’ve provided above it only actually leaves you with two contenders and I’m firmly of the view that one of the two of these will win today.
Champion Hurdle Tips & Analysis
Okay, so Hurricane Fly is too old at 9yo, plus I think it’s been 40 years since a previous Champion Hurdler was defeated and then came back to win it again, Binocular and Khyber Kim follow suit, Balder Success and Countrywide Flame are too young at 5yo, and Grandouet and Cinders And Ashes haven’t had a run in the current year. And that, my friends, only leaves us with two potential winners to consider…
Rock On Ruby (Available at 11/2)
The winner of the race in 2012, it’s been said that Rock On Ruby‘s success was something of a fluke, but I don’t think so. Last year’s challenge was as strong a race as you’ll get and the horse won by 3 1/2 lengths and was pulling away from Overturn at the finish. His trainer, Harry Fry, thinks he’s in better form than ever this year after strengthening up over the winter and that’s good enough for me.
Zarkander (Available at 7/2)
Paul Nicholls’ star Zarkander has been a revelation this season, winning three on the bounce and the last two very readily. He’s most at home on soft ground and has a heavy ground defeat of Grandouet and Rock On Ruby under his belt already this season. Whether he can confirm that form with ROR, on better ground and on his day, is another matter, but I suspect that he’ll be involved in the finish.
Those are my two for the Champion Hurdle in 2013, but to add an extra twist to the bet, I’ve backed both of these – to the tune of £50 each – with Paddy Power, because they’ve got a stand-out offer this morning where if Hurricane Fly wins you get your cash back up to a maximum of £100, so it would be silly not to place your bets with them. You’ll get all of your cash back if the favourite wins… perfect!
Champion Hurdle Odds
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