Technically, the Champion Hurdle is the most prestigious event in the hurdling calendar. Although it is somewhat upstaged by the Gold Cup, it remains one of the highlights of the Cheltenham Festival.
There have been several horses who have made names for themselves thanks to the Champion Hurdle, including National Spirit, Persian War and most recently Istabraq, the last horse to win the race three times. This year, there is plenty of competition and certainly for Irish fans Cheltenham Festival betting Champion Hurdle odds will be scrutinised by fans of Hurricane’s Fly. If he should win, then Willie Mullins’ horse will be considered the best hurdler since Istabraq. His jumping is incredibly impressive and victory at the Irish Champion Hurdle indicates that Hurricane Fly has the appetite to write his name in history.
However, last year’s winner Rock on Ruby will be back to defend his crown and will be hoping for a repeat performance, having romped home last year with Noel Fehily in the saddle. There will also be plenty of competition from some younger horses out there too. Zarkandar, many say, has looked particularly slick recently and will certainly look to be a contender. There are plenty of other names to throw into the mix too. Nicky Henderson will have high hopes for two of his horses, Grandouet and Darlan, with the latter having captured the Christmas Hurdle just a few weeks ago. Meanwhile, the 2010 Champion Hurdle winner Binocular will also be somewhere in the shake up. Cinders and Ashes, trained by Don McCain, may prove his versatility, and what better place to show it than the Festival’s Champion Hurdle.
*From time to time, Retired Racehorse runs sponsored posts to help pay the bills. In this case, your editor is a big fan of hurdling and National Hunt racing, and riding across a steeplechase course may or may not be on her bucket list!
–Natalie Keller Reinert, editor.