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.

Mullins has an interesting runner in Cilaos Emery who was meant to be novice chasing this season and indeeed won three of his first four starts over the bigger obstacles. Connections have had a late change of heart after realising this race is a wide open affair and decided to pay the supplement and give it their best shot here.

The 8yo comes into the race having had a sighter back over hurdles at Gowran Park where he won a GGrade 3 contest by an easy 9 lengths. That effort probably rubber stamped the final decision to run here but will need to improve on that to figure.

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.

Outsider Darver Star has come in for some support recently, he won his first four races this season and has since been beaten twice in Grade 1 company behind Envoi Allen and Honeysuckle where he only went down by half a length. Thats decent form if you take it literally but I just feel he's just below top class.

Punters Lounge Tip: Epatante 4/1 at Paddy Power - Click Here To Bet
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