Champion Hurdle preview and betting tips for the day 1 Cheltenham Festival Championship race including a win bet tip.
Unfortunately, we have no Faugheen or Annie Power to once again impose their class, consequently we have much more of a competitive renewal of the Champion Hurdle than was expected at the start of the season. It looks like a tight contest that could go the way of any number of candidates.
Champion Hurdle Betting Tip
It’s often very easy to get drawn in by the ease of certain victories, Buveur D’air’s Contenders Hurdle win was one of those. He won the contest with any amount in hand under an extremely confident Barry Geraghty ride. You would have to question the form of that race, even though the bare numbers flatter Rayvin Black who wasn’t far behind in second. It’s hard to say based on that performance what Buveur D’air brings to the table, but if you gaze an eye at last season’s form then he is a major player. A third in what is shaping up to have been a top class Supreme Novices’ Hurdle is up there with the best form on offer. That is his only defeat over hurdles, subsequently he beat another Champion Hurdle contender in Petit Mouchoir at the Aintree festival.
Petit Mouchoir has vastly improved over the course of this season since moving to Henry de Bromhead’s yard. A debut run for his new handler resulted in a third behind Rashaan and Apple’s Jade, he then travelled to Newcastle for the Fighting Fifth where he was looking very much like the winner before coming down three from home. He put those two performances well behind him in the Ryanair Hurdle at Leopardstown where he ran out a comprehensive victor, beating the hot favourite Nichols Canyon. Following that surprise win he cemented his Champion Hurdle claims by winning the Irish version with another bold front-running display. He had Footpad a length back in second who was finishing off strongly and will likely be suited by the uphill finish at Cheltenham.
Alan King saddles last year’s Neptune runner up Yanworth, that has been his only defeat over hurdles and he may well extend this seasons unbeaten run and land our Champion Hurdle tip. He began the season over two and a half miles but has since been dropped back in trip as his owner looks to have a formidable prospect for the Stayers Hurdle in Unowhatimeanharry. This decision has been questioned by many as two miles doesn’t really see Yanworth to best affect. Even though it isn’t his optimum he has still won both races over that distance this season, the first of them was the Christmas Hurdle and the second the Kingwell Hurdle. Those races took place at Kempton and Wincanton respectively which are primarily speed tracks but he has still managed to win despite not being overly impressive and just doing what he has had to do. The stiff finish at Cheltenham will suit him perfectly and he will relish coming up that hill. If they go off fast I expect him to be able to swoop past late on and get his head in front.
A likely looking contender for Willie Mullins is Limini. She was mightily impressive when beating Apple’s Jade in a Mares Listed Hurdle at Punchestown and seems to have improved plenty over the winter. Track experience for Cheltenham is crucial and she has this as she ran out a good winner of the inaugural running of the Mares Novice Hurdle at last year’s festival. She’s no Annie Power, but if Rich Ricci stumps up the £20,000 to supplement her you would think he wouldn’t just be doing it for a laugh.
Brain Power is a very smart handicapper for Nicky Henderson who has done nothing but improve this season and goes in with a valid each way chance. My Tent Or Yours hasn’t had a very good campaign and you would feel it would be a shock if he crossed the line first. However, he has been there and done it with two second place finishes in the race so he is not to be discounted. The New One will be lining up in his fourth Champion Hurdle and is a model of consistency but he does have a bit to find with Yanworth, as do Ch’tibello and Sceau Royal, good ground would certainly help the latter.
I would give a tentative vote to Yanworth for my Champion Hurdle betting tip in what is a very open renewal of the Champion Hurdle. It should be a great race to watch and I think he possess all the required skills to come out on top.
Cheltenham Day 1 Tip
Champion Hurdle: Yanworth to Win – 7/2 with William Hill.
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