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Champion Hurdle Tips - 3:30pm Cheltenham

The blue riband race of day one is the Unibet Champion Hurdle run over the minimum trip of 2 miles and 87 yards. A race that has been won by luminaries such as Istabraq, Hurricane Fly, Faughheen and Buvuer D’air amongst others. Some interesting key trends are that 8 of the last 10 won last time out and 8 out of 10 were aged between 6 and 8 years of age.

Last year’s winner Epatante, trained by Seven Barrows trainer Nicky Henderson, who’s won this race a record eight times, attempts to follow up but she seemed a bit flat when beaten at skinny odds in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton behind Silver Streak. It transpired that she had an issue with her back and has had work done on it since. A fully fit Epatante is a threat to everyone as we saw to effect with her trademark slick hurdling at Newcastle in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle prior to Kempton. Her owner JP McManus is looking for a record tenth win in the race.

Honeysuckle booked her place with a scintillating victory in the Irish Champion Hurdle over the Dublin Racing Weekend and is the one they all have to beat. Henry De Bromhead’s mare is unbeaten now in ten races with her latest win arguably her best. De Bromhead opted to miss the Champion last year, instead opting to take in the Mares Hurdle which she duly won in a battle with the smart Benie Des Dieux. Like last year’s winner Epatante she will get the very valuable mares allowance of 7lb which is a massive bonus. She appears better than ever and with Rachael Blackmore, who’s been on board in all her career runs under rules knowing her so well she looks sure to run her race for owner Kenny Alexander.

Silver Streak appears to have improved this season winning twice at Kempton. He had Epatante back in second place in the Christmas Hurdle on Boxing Day where forcing tactics where used for the first time trained in Wales by Evan Williams he’s a lively outsider although it’s going to be very hard to make all in such a prestigious race against the best around.

Gordon Elliott’s Abracadbras isn’t the easiest of rides and was put in his place by Honeysuckle at Leopardstown when soundly beaten ten lengths into runners up spot. He’ll need to be at his very best to even make the frame.

2017 and 2018 winner Buveur D’air fell in the 2019 renewal when favourite and missed last season with a freak injury incurred in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle where a piece of the final hurdle speared his hoof. He reappeared at Haydock in January in their Champion Hurdle trial only to struggle to run down decent handicapper Navajo Pass. His best maybe behind him now whilst Henderson’s other entry is Buzz who needs to improve to worry the leading contenders.

Willie Mullin’s Sharjah flopped in the Irish Champion Hurdle for the second year running but did bounce back last season to chase home Epatante in the big one. The drier the ground the better for this useful dual purpose gelding. Mullins also has Saint Roi entered although he was behind Honeysuckle last time and Sharjah previous to that.

Last season’s unluckiest Festival loser was Goshen who crashed out at the last when clear in the Triumph Hurdle. It’s tough for five year olds to win this race although Espoir D’Allen did buck that trend in 2019. Gary Moore’s gelding disappointed since in two runs on the level and in the International Hurdle at Cheltenham where it transpired afterwards that he had an irregular heartbeat, but bounced back in spectacular fashion when making all to win the Kingwell Hurdle at Wicanton and comes here with a decent chance.

Henry De Bromhead has an able back up to his super mare Honeysuckle with Aspire Tower who chased home Sharjah at Leopardstown over Christmas but will need to improve on that to be involved here.

An outsider who has claims is Tom Symond’s Song For Someone who’s unbeaten this season at Ascot and Cheltenham. Beating Silver Streak in the latter, the International Hurdle at Cheltenham giving him 2lb. Given a break since then he looks the best outsider.

If Honeysuckle turns up in the same form as at Leopardstown in February she’s going to be very hard to beat with that 7lb allowance a massive help. The only negative against her would be if the ground was too ride fast but with the winter we’ve had that looks unlikely.

Punters Lounge Tip: Honeysuckle 5/2 at bet365 - Click Here To Bet
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