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Cheltenham Festival Preview: Champion Hurdle

Two supermares and a resurrection of a future star has made this year’s Champion Hurdle a must-watch contest

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Epatante wins the 2020 Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival

The Champion Hurdle heads the card for the opening day of the Festival, with several talented runners entered into the contest.

Reigning champion Epatante will be aiming to land back-to-back successes in the contest and has landed a Grade 1 success this season already in the form of the Fighting Fifth Hurdle.

However, the seven-year-old was disappointing in the Christmas Hurdle, finishing six lengths behind Silver Streak (who also holds an entry to this contest) when a short-odds favourite of 1/5.

Epatante and Barry Geraghty after winning the Champion Hurdle at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival
Reigning Champion Hurdle heroine Epatante looks to emulate fellow JP McManus horses Buveur D’Air and Istabraq in defending her crown

Nicky Henderson did cite back issues as the reason for her shock defeat, but Epatante needs to return to her best to stand any chance of taking on Honeysuckle.

Henry De Bromhead’s unbeaten star returns to Cheltenham with another mare in her sights, after beating fan favourite Benie Des Dieux in the Mares’ Hurdle last season.

Honeysuckle
Honeysuckle heads for this year’s Champion Hurdle bidding to keep her unbeaten record in tact

The seven-year-old has been mightily impressive this season, winning the Hatton Grace and the Irish Champion Hurdle with ease.

Honeysuckle’s pace has left plenty of contenders in the dust this season, and she is a real danger to Epatante here.

Tuesday’s feature race had shaped up to be a two-mare contest over the course of the year.

Then the Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton happened.

Goshen produced arguably one of the biggest runs of the season in the hurdling sphere, seeing off Song For Someone by an incredible 22 lengths.

Goshen at Ascot Racecourse
Goshen bids for redemption at the Cheltenham Festival after his final flight mishap in last season’s Triumph

The Triumph Hurdle fiasco was pushed firmly to the side, and the talented prospect has thrown his name back into the hat.

If Gary Moore’s star can combat the 7lb difference between him and the two mares, then he could well be only the second five-year-old to win the race since the turn of the century.

Willie Mullins holds five entries for the race, with four-time Grade 1 winner Sharjah and interesting new recruit James Du Berlais spearheading the Closutton trainer’s claims.

Willie Mullins
Can Willie Mullins spoil the party with 2020 Champion Hurdle runner up Sharjah?

Triumph Hurdle runner-up Aspire Tower has continued to show promise this season, winning the WKD Hurdle at Down Royal before taking a strong second in the Grade 1 Matheson Hurdle in December.

If he continues to show progress, then Henry De Bromhead’s runner could have some each-way appeal.

AN exciting contest not to be missed on day one of the Festival.

BEST SELECTIONS:
  • Goshen @ 4/1 (Betfair, Paddy Power, Ladbrokes, Coral)
  • Sharjah E/W @ 16/1 (Bet365 + William Hill)
watch: epatante sees off allcomers in the 2020 champion hurdle [racing tv]

Reece Charlton is a Content Writer at Low6 that specializes in horse racing. He is an avid hunter of value in the racing world, picking out longshots six days a week across the National Hunt and Flat cards on offer across the UK and Ireland. He keeps punters and race fans in the know with his racing expertise with previews and value picks for all the big cards and meetings.

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