[Free Tips For Cheltenham] Champion Hurdle 2021
Champion Hurdle Analysis
15:30 at Cheltenham Racecourse on 16th March
Epatante was a decent winner of what was considered a weak edition of the Champion Hurdle in 2020. The bookies have made her favourite to win the 2021 Champion Hurdle on the back of that performance, but she should face a much sterner test of her abilities if last season’s best novice hurdlers progress further, as expected. Check out our 2021 Champion Hurdle preview and our ante-post tips.
Epatante (4/1) became just the fifth 6-year-old to win the Champion Hurdle in the last 12 years and, interestingly, the last four of those were all trained by Nicky Henderson and owned by JP McManus. The negative is that only Buveur D’Air returned to retain his title the following year, and he’s the only horse in the last 15 years to win back-to-back Champion Hurdles. Despite getting a 7lb allowance, the previous three mares to win the Champion Hurdle also failed to win the following year. She does handle all types of ground, but the stats are against her winning the 2021 Champion Hurdle.
Goshen (5/1) was the unluckiest loser at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival and he would have been one of the most impressive Triumph Hurdle winners ever if he hadn’t fallen at the last. A rapid improver on the flat before he was sent hurdling, he could prove to be a monster. The negative is only three 5-year-olds have won the Champion Hurdle since 1985, and it’s hard to argue that his current odds offer much value.
Abacadbras (8/1) was only second in the 2020 Supreme Novice Hurdle, but horses such as Jezki and Binocular have been defeated in the Festival curtain-raiser before winning the following year’s Champion Hurdle. Abacadabras certainly travelled like the best horse in the race and looked unlucky to be mugged by Shiskin, a horse who himself has the talent to win a Champion Hurdle but could follow in the hoofprints of stable mate Altior and go chasing. Abacadbras could easily be the real deal next year but his price just looks fair at this stage.
Shiskin (16/1) is one of a few horses quoted in the 2021 Champion Hurdle market that may well have other priorities. Another is the 2020 Ballymore winner Envoi Allen who could be another set to embark on a chasing career. The high-class mares Honeysuckle (16/1) and Benis Des Dieux (25/1) also look unlikely runners at this point, as a rematch in the Mares’ Hurdle may be top of their agenda.
Buveur D’Air (25/1) could return to try and regain his title, but no horse has managed that two years after he won his last Champion Hurdle. The 2020 County Hurdle winner Saint Roi (25/1) falls into the could be anything category, and he could easily find the required improvement after just three runs for Willie Mullins. Interestingly, he’ll be a JP McManus owned 6-year-old come the 2021 Champion Hurdle.
Sharjah and Darver Star were second and third in the 2020 Champion Hurdle, but the latter will be nine next year, whilst Sharjah probably needs good ground to have a genuine chance in what will surely be a stronger field in 2021.
Willie Mullins does have another couple of interesting contenders in Klassical Dream (40/1) and Saldier (25/1), and they were disputing favouritism when ruled out of the 2020 Champion Hurdle. However, it’s hard to know if they’ll be at their best if returning from injury. Despite that, Saldier is tempting, as he looked the equal of 2019 Champion Hurdler winner Espoir D’Allen at his best.
One horse that seems to have escaped the attention of the bookmakers at this stage is Captain Guinness (50/1), who looked to be travelling just as well as Abacadbras in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle until being interfered with at the third last and then brought down at the second last. What makes the Henry de Bromhead 5-year-old even more interesting is that was just the third run of his career, and he has much more scope for improvement than many of the horses above him in the market. Henry de Bromhead looked likely to win the 2008 Champion Hurdle with a similar type in Sizing Europe before that horse was injured during the race.