The first of the four Cheltenham Festival Championship races gets underway on the opening day, in the form of the Champion Hurdle.
Reigning champion HONEYSUCKLE (1/2) is the current favourite for the contest, after producing yet another devastating campaign over hurdles.
Henry De Bromhead’s ‘supermare’ is still yet to be beaten under rules, a record that has stretched over the last four seasons.
The eight-year-old has been convincing on her last two starts, clearing away by eight and six-and-a-half lengths in Grade 1 company.
The daughter of Sulamani is very obviously the one to beat in this contest, with one of her rivals requiring a very special performance to get the better of her here.
APPRECIATE IT (10/3) is considered to be the danger to that record here, despite not running since his thumping victory in the Supreme last season.
The eight-year-old has suffered a few setbacks over the season, with his connections opting to plunge the gelding in the deep end without a prep run.
Appreciate It did show promise over hurdles as a novice and has been well supported for this contest, but it is still a mystery how he will perform here after a lengthy absence.
He could well be joined by stablemate SAINT ROI (25/1), who has struggled since striking success in the County Hurdle back in 2020 and will likely be up against it here again.
Gordon Elliott sends a promising duo of runners to Cheltenham for the Grade 1 contest, with TEAHUPOO (15/2) impressing with three Graded victories this season and ZANAHIYR (11/1) showing some consistency for the Cullentra trainer.
Triumph Hurdle runner-up ADAGIO (16/1) returns to Cheltenham, with the five-year-old potentially holding each-way claims in this contest.
David Pipe’s gelding has produced two respectable performances in Graded company this season, finishing second on both occasions.
The son of Wiener Walzer will very likely not get the better of Honeysuckle, but Adagio could well be in the running for the places.
Nicky Henderson’s EPATANTE (9/1) aims to regain her title after landing the contest in 2020, while Ann Hamilton will be hoping for a dream performance from underdog TOMMY OSCAR’S (20/1).
QUIXILIOS (25/1) could join stablemate Honeysuckle if connections opt for this contest instead of the County Hurdle, while MONMIRAL (33/1) will need to rediscover his juvenile form if he is to be competitive here for Paul Nicholls.
NOT SO SLEEPY (40/1) returns for another crack at the Grade 1 contest after finishing fifth in the contest last year for Hughie Morrison and Tom Lacey’s GLORY AND FORTUNE (40/1) is given his chance here after finishing second in the Ladbrokes Christmas Hurdle at Kempton.
Alan King’s TRITONIC (66/1) and Gavin Cromwell’s MY MATE MOZZIE (100/1) will very likely run in the County Hurdle and not here.
*Odds courtesy of Spreadex and correct at time of writing