Four Chasers That Could Win The Champion Hurdle

Cheltenham Champion Hurdle 2018

Buveur D’Air’s shock Fighting Fifth defeat – and subsequent injury revelations – have caused major ripples in betting markets for the Champion Hurdle.

He dominated the two-mile hurdling division for the best part of two years after a brief spell chasing, landing the Champion Hurdle in both 2017 and 2018 – whilst still looking well in contention prior to falling in last year’s renewal.

It appears unlikely that we will see the JP McManus-owned eight-year-old on the track again this season, so bearing that in mind, we have taken a closer look at the Champion Hurdle, identifying four chasers that could win the race were they to take the ‘Buveur D’Air route’.

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After suffering his first defeat over obstacles at Ascot last month, it could be argued that connections of Altior are in something of a quandary over what to do next – with the nine-year-old looking vulnerable to stronger stayers over three miles, and quicker rivals over two miles.

Could a shock return to hurdles be the answer?

Altior hasn’t been seen over the smaller obstacles since landing the 2016 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle – where he had stablemate Buveur D’Air eight and a half lengths behind.

His form has skyrocketed over fences since then, but with that discipline looking very competitive, and this one looking far less so, he’d have to be considered a major player if targeted at hurdling’s most prestigious prize.


Can Melon make it third time lucky in the Champion Hurdle?

The Willie Mullins-trained seven-year-old has chased home Buveur D’Air and Espoir D’Allen in the last two renewals, those efforts coming after chasing home Labaik in the 2017 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.

He made a promising chase debut when second at Navan last month but is probably vulnerable to the very best novices in that sphere, so could connections be tempted by a return to timber, preserving his novice status over fences for next season.


Douvan showed that he still retained plenty of ability when landing the Grade 2 Clonmel Oil Chase last month.

Connections are keen to drop him back to two miles, but with their exciting Chacun Pour Soi already to unleash in the two-mile chase division, could the best option for the 2015 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner be a return to the smaller obstacles?

His jumping over fences in his last couple of starts has left a little to be desired, so this switch is not beyond the realms of possibility, but he will be ten by the time the race comes around – and no horse aged in double-figures has won the Champion Hurdle since the legendary Sea Pigeon back in 1981.


He needs hyping up no further, but Samcro is clearly a very talented racehorse on his day.

Jack Kennedy still appeared to have plenty in the tank when the son of Germany cruised up to challenge Fakir D’oudairies at Fairyhouse last weekend, and whilst his fall robbed us of the chance to properly see what was under the bonnet – it did provide cause for concern over his ability to jump at speed at the highest level over fences.

Clearly Samcro is still open to improvement in that sphere, but with his connections so keen to run him in the Champion Hurdle last season, a better preparation this time around in what looks a weaker division could pay dividends.

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