Champion Hurdle Preview
Reigning Champion Hurdler Epatante showed a lot of class when winning the Grade 1 Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle. As a consequence, she was cut from 3-1 to 7-4 in the betting market to retain her crown in 2021. Nicky Henderson’s incredible mare gave Aidan Coleman the dream ride. She was sent off the 8-11 favourite and comfortably defeated the race-fit, bang in-form, 158-rated Sceau Royal, winning by four and a quarter lengths. If she gets to Cheltenham in one piece, she will be hard to beat.
Moving across to the other side of the Irish Sea, Saint Roi did his credentials no harm when an unlucky loser in the Morgiana Hurdle. The race turned into a very tactical affair and space was at a premium approaching the second last. Saint Roi got boxed in and this allowed Abacadabras to get a clear run and move into a seemingly decisive lead. However, the JP McManus runner battled on bravely after the last and only just failed. He is the horse of the pair to take out of the race moving forward.
Things didn’t go to plan for Goshen in the Triumph Hurdle, to say the very least. He has been running back on the Flat since he last ran over hurdles but was beaten both times at Haydock and Goodwood at skinny odds. Gary Moore is apparently desperate to run him in Saturday’s Unibet International Hurdle at Cheltenham. He was due to run in the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton in early November and then the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle. However, he wasn’t ready and missed both engagements. He is a classy horse but his preparation for Cheltenham has been terrible and he is hard to fancy at present.
Honeysuckle won the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle for the second time at the end of November. She undoubtedly would be a big player in a Champion Hurdle but connections will more than likely opt for the Mares’ Hurdle once again. She won that race last year so if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. It would also be a surprise if Benie Des Dieux lined up in this race in March. She is definitely much better over further so the Mares’ Hurdle and Stayers’ Hurdle are better options.
Willie Mullins has a very good one on his hands in the form of the mare Concertista. She was beaten a short head in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at the Festival in 2019 so is at least proven around the course. That track experience was evident at the Festival this year when she ran out a 12-length winner of the Mares’ Novices’. With the attractive mares’ allowances on offer, the temptation might be there for connections to have a crack at the big one.
Runner-up in the Triumph Hurdle at the Festival last March, Aspire Tower is another runner that has to be worth a mention. That said, he would have been beaten half the track if Goshen didn’t crash out at the final flight. That form isn’t great and he will need to improve a lot on that to figure in a Champion Hurdle but leading Arkle contender Allmankind was back in third. He did beat Abacadabras by nearly five lengths on his comeback at Down Royal though and that form has been massively franked.
Cheltenham Champion Hurdle Ante-Post Tip
He has to go and prove it was no fluke but in my opinion, there is no way Abacadabras should be less than half the price of ASPIRE TOWER (20-1 Hills). A pretty good horse on the Flat in his time, he doesn’t lack gears and was an impressive 18-length winner of a Leopardstown Grade 2 on Boxing Day last year. He wasn’t at his very best in the Triumph Hurdle but he made short work of Abacadabras in the WKD Hurdle on his reappearance. Considering he had to do it the hard way from the front and taking into account the fact he was quite keen, that was a cracking run. Abacadabras has since gone on to beat Saint Roi in the Morgiana Hurdle so the form shouldn’t be underestimated.
Horse Racing Free Bets
Get ready for the Cheltenham Festival 2021 with a plethora of free bets. These will come in very handy for people who are building an ante-post portfolio.