- 1:30 Supreme Novices Hurdle
- 2:10 Arkle Chase
- 2:50 Ultima Handicap Chase
- 3:30 Champion Hurdle
- 4:10 Mares Hurdle
- 4:50 Northern Trust Novices Chase
- 5:30 National Hunt Chase Cup
- 1:30 Ballymore Novices Hurdle
- 2:10 RSA Chase
- 2:50 Coral Cup
- 3:30 Champion Chase
- 4:10 Cross Country Chase
- 4:50 Boodles Handicap Hurdle
- 5:30 Champion Bumper
- 1:30 Marsh Novices Chase
- 2:10 Pertemps Final Hurdle
- 2:50 Ryanair Chase
- 3:30 Stayers Hurdle
- 4:10 Brown Advisory Plate
- 4:50 Dawn Run Mares Hurdle
- 5:30 Kim Muir Chase Cup
Champion Hurdle Tips - 3:30pm Cheltenham
2020 Champion Hurdle Preview
Owner J.P.McManus landed his third Champion Hurdle in as many years when his promisinga young hurdler Espoir D’Allen caused a 20/1 shock last year. Unfortunately he suffered a fatal injury in the close season so is unable to defend his crown.
This time round the famous green and gold hoops will be carried by Epatante the latest superstar to come off the McManus conveyor belt. Trained by Nicky Henderson who has won this race seven times already including in 2017 and 2018 with Buveur D’Air.
The 6yo was a disappointing beaten favourite in the Mares Novice Hurdle last year trailing in a well beaten ninth. On the back of that she was given a mark of just 137 and duly bolted up in a Listed Handicap at Newbury in November. She then followed up in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton by 5 lengths from Silver Streak proving what a good thing she was back at Newbury that day.
She has been put away since then and is now rated 159 by the handicapper, with just 5 career starts to her name she could have much more in the locker and looks a real exciting prospect.
Henderson is also represented by Pentland Hills who won the Triumph Hurdle here last season. He followed up at Aintree a month later and went straight into many notebooks as one to follow this season.
His comeback run in the International at Cheltenham in December was satisfactory rather than spectacular, he travelled well and looked the likely winner two out only to fade up the hill and finished 5th behind stablemate Call Me Lord. The defeat was put down to fitness and much more was expected at Haydock next time out.
Once again he travelled like much the best horse in the Unibet Hurdle only to be collared on the line by Ballyandy. Again it was a decent enough run at the weights but was this a performance by a future Champion Hurdler? Maybe the quicker pace and better ground will be in his favour next time out.
Ballyandy will now be aimed at the Champion Hurdle after that victory, he will want it very soft to be able to compete at this level but you cant blame connections for wanting to have ago. His only other option would be to carry top weight in the County Hurdle or wait for Aintree.
Henderson also has Fusil Raffles in the line up, he is another ex-French horse bought for the double green partnership of Simon Munir and Isaac Souede. Still only a 5yo so lacks the experience of many but was jumping hurdles at three. He won the juvenile Champion Hurdle at Punchestown last season and then six months later won the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton.
Unfortunately it went a bit pair shaped next time out in the Christmas Hurdle when he suddenly pulled up two out, he has since recovered from that setback and could easily bounce back to form here.
The Irish challenge is has weakened through one reason or another, Willie Mullins has won it four times since 2011 and his main hope Saldier has had to miss the race through injury which leaves the Irish maestro a bit light this year.
Saldier is owned by Susannah Ricci and she also has Sharjah in the race. Often the forgotten horse in the yard and has been the so-called second string many times before, he shouldn’t be underestimated and is a very consistent performer. He was behind Saldier earlier in the season but bounced back to his best when winning at Leopardstown at the Christmas meeting. Last time out at the Dublin Festival he was very disappointing and now needs to bounce back.
Gordon Elliott has yet to win the Champion Hurdle but has a possible big player in the unbeaten Envoi Allen. The 6yo won a point and four Bumper races last season including the big one here at Cheltenham. This season he opened his hurdling account at Down Royal and then was pitched into a Grade 1 contest next time out. He won that in decent style and then bolted up in another Grade 1 at Naas in January.
He’s still inexperienced compared to many of his rivals and it will be a big step up in class but Elliott has never been afraid of taking on the big boys and has a chance in what looks an open contest. He has the option of running in one of the Novice Hurdles and it remains to be seen where he ends up.
Henry De Bromhead saddles his lovely mare Honeysuckle, she has won all of her seven starts to date under rules. She won her first Grade 1 race last April at Fairyhouse and has looked very impressive in her two starts this year. She has been running over a longer trip and it has been a toss-up as to whether she goes for the Mares hurdle or is pitched in against the boys over a shorter trip here. Again the fact that we have a wide open Champion Hurdle this year has swayed many owners to have a go at the big prize.
Last time out at Leopardstown she dropped back to two miles and won the Irish Champion Hurdle, it was a close run thing and the form is not that great, but you can only but admire her tenacity and she won’t let her supporters down wherever she goes.
Jessica Harrington won this race with Jezki and she will give her Supasundae one last chance to show he can mix it at this level over two miles. Last season he opted for the Stayers Hurdle where he could only finsih 7th but tghen went on to defeat Buveur D'Air at Aintree next time out. He was fourth to Honeysuckle on his comeback run and could run into a place at a price if things drop right.Punters Lounge Tip: Epatante 4/1 at Paddy Power - Click Here To Bet
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