It is only September but the truth of the matter is the Cheltenham Festival is on everyone’s radar even six months away from the most prestigious jumps week of the year on the world calendar.
Our expert Adrian Wall takes an early look at the Champion Hurdle market to see where the odds compilers may have slipped up so that us punters can grab some early value.
4/1 – Epatante
It is no shock to see the 2020 winner of the race at the head of the market. However, she looks a very short price considering last season’s race was considered to be a very poor renewal. She travelled like a dream in behind a good solid pace set by Petit Mouchoir before jumping the last perfectly, going on to score by two lengths. If we see no star emerge next season then you should expect this mare to go off a very strong favourite on the day in 2021.
6/1 – Goshen
This boy could be the up and coming star if last season’s exertions are anything to go by. The son of Authorized was unbeaten on his way to the Triumph Hurdle and was 10-lengths clear jumping the last but incredibly unseated rider with the race at his mercy. Visually, he would have been one of the most impressive Festival winners of all time and the clock has backed that up. If Gary Moore can get him there in one piece, he could take some stopping.
10/1 – Abracadabras
Owned by Gigginstown House Stud, this horse came close to pulling off arguably the biggest gamble of the week in 2020, backed from 7/1 into 11/4 on the day for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. He looked a certain winner turning for home being the only horse still swinging off the bridle but he just got run out of it by the extremely tough and resilient Shishkin who came from an unpromising position to get the job done. Nonetheless, Gordon’s horse has a lot of scope to improve again over hurdles this season.
16/1 – Shishkin
Nicky Henderson’s charge may have won the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in 2020 but in order to win a Champion Hurdle you must be extremely efficient in the jumping department and at the moment he seems to be lacking in that area. There is no doubting his talent but he may be better suited to fences and over longer distances in time. Given his size and scope, it will be a major surprise if he lines up in the Champion Hurdle so be very careful with this one ante-post.
The Nicky Henderson-trained and JP McManus-owned Epatante took advantage of what looks like a weak renewal of the race in 2020 and should be vulnerable to one of the up-and-coming horses this time around. It probably won’t be Shishkin who looks destined for fences and Nicky already has a strong hand in the race. Goshen is quite evidently full of talent but has had a couple of niggling injury concerns since his Triumph run. The most solid play right now has to be ABRACADABRAS, whose connections have already stated that they plan to keep him over hurdles next season. The way he jumped and travelled in the Supreme last season was extremely eye-catching and he could be the class act in the race to follow this term.