The Cheltenham Festival ante-post series ventures into the first day’s feature race, as our team have taken a look ahead to the Champion Hurdle.
The two-mile contest has seen two ‘supermares’ claim success in recent years, with Nicky Henderson’s Epatante and Henry De Bromhead’s Honeysuckle have stormed to victory at Prestbury Park in the last two seasons.
With several new faces stepping up out of novice company and some returning from injury, our team have made their ante-post choices for the Grade 1 contest at the Cheltenham Festival.
Here are three selections to consider for the 2022 renewal of the Champion Hurdle
A Grade 1 winning mare hailing from Willie Mullins’ yard, Echoes In Rain could prove to be an exciting prospect when stepping up out of novice company this season.
The five-year-old holds some seriously good form, including an eight-length success over Grade 1 winner Belfast Banter in a Grade 2 Novice Hurdle at Naas back in February.
She was impressive at Fairyhouse in April, seeing off the likes of Master McShee and Thedevilscoachman with ease before landing Grade 1 success in the Champion Novice Hurdle at Punchestown on her last start.
The daughter of Authorized clearly has a bright future ahead of her and it would be no surprise if she will be taking on the likes of Honeysuckle at Cheltenham in March.
JEFF KIDDER (25/1 – Various)
After causing a massive upset in the Boodles at the odds of 80/1, Jeff Kidder has made huge strides in the last few months for Noel Meade.
The four-year-old followed up his Cheltenham success with Grade 2 honours at Fairyhouse in April, before taking his biggest scalp to date in the Grade 1 Ballymore Champion Four Year Old.
Going off at the price of 22/1, he kept on well in the closing stages to claim a surprise success against the likes of Quilixios, Zanahiyr and Haut En Couleurs.
He was given a run out on the flat at Kilbeggan last month, but he should be much sharper back in the National Hunt sphere and his price of 25/1 for the Champion Hurdle could well fall if he continues to show progress.
SAINT ROI (40/1 – William Hill + 888sport)
Last season didn’t go to plan for Saint Roi, with the six-year-old missing Cheltenham as his connections felt he hadn’t gone forward.
The 2020 County Hurdle winner was deemed Willie Mullins’ best chance of success in the Champion Hurdle over the winter months, but two disappointing defeats in Grade 1 company at Leopardstown was enough to rule him out of the contest.
It is unclear at this stage whether the six-year-old will remain hurdles or make the switch to novice chasing, but one thing that is clear is that he does carry some potential.
The son of Coastal Path holds a big price of 40/1 for the Champion Hurdle and if Mullins can revive the Cheltenham Festival winner, he could well be a surprise contender for this contest come March.