Cheltenham Preview: Champion Hurdle
The Cheltenham Festival’s Champion Hurdle is the premier race on day No 1 at the world-famous horse-racing meet. The two-mile championship race features the fastest and strongest hurdlers.
The 2021 and 2022 editions of the Champion Hurdle were won by Honeysuckle. Jockey Rachael Blackmore rode the Henry De Bromhead-trained horse to victory on both occasions. De Bromhead’s charge will attempt to win the event for the third consecutive season when the Champion Hurdle takes place on Tuesday, March 14, if the trainer does not alter Honeysuckle’s race plans.
Blackmore won’t ride Honeysuckle in this year’s race, as she has opted for Mares’ Hurdle instead. Could Honeysuckle join her? With the jockey to be announced at the time of writing, bookmakers favour a different horse to win the Champion Hurdle on day No 1.
Who are the favourites to win the Champion Hurdle?
All eyes are on Constitution Hill to win the Champion Hurdle. Unibet has Constitution Hill at the best betting odds of 1/3 to win the race. Most bookmakers agree with Unibet’s assertion that Constitution Hill will take home the glory.
Nicky Henderson is the all-time winningest trainer in the Champion Hurdle’s history. He has won the Cheltenham Festival event a record eight times. Henderson’s See You Then won the event for three consecutive years from 1985 to 1987.
Constitution Hill is unbeaten on the racecourse and some tipsters believe Constitution Hill is the safest bet of all the runners going to the Cheltenham Festival 2023. The horse has won five consecutive races. Last season at the Cheltenham Festival, Constitution Hill won the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.
Punters looking for more value for the Champion Hurdle may find it with State Man. Unibet has State Man at odds of 3/1 to win the race, while Bet365 are offering 11/4. State Man claimed victory at the Irish Champion Hurdle in February. The Willie Mullins-trained horse will be ridden by Paul Townsend, the jockey who rode State Man for the last five races.
State Man is on a six-race win streak. The horse claimed victory in the County Handicap Hurdle a year ago. State Man knows how to win at the festival and Townsend has ridden the horse to victory multiple times. State Man could upset the favourite and offers punters a more exciting price.
Can Honeysuckle three-peat?
It seems that a lot of people are writing off Honeysuckle’s chances of winning the Champion Hurdle. The nine-year-old won just one race after finishing first in last season’s Champion Hurdle.
Yet, Honeysuckle hasn’t embarrassed De Bromhead and company in those events. The horse finished third at Fairyhouse and second at Leopardstown in February. The second-place finish at Leopardstown was against State Man in the Irish Champion Hurdle.
Ladbrokes has Honeysuckle at odds of 14/1 to win the race for a third straight year. With Blackmore riding in the Mares’ Hurdle, De Bromhead hasn’t announced a jockey for the race. De Bromhead could alter Honeysuckle’s Cheltenham Festival, with the horse possibly moving to the Mares’ Hurdle. However, bookmakers are still offering odds on Honeysuckle to win the Champion Hurdle.
Which horses could spring an upset at the Champion Hurdle?
Everywhere you look, horse racing tipsters are writing and talking about the monster that is Constitution Hill. Many people seem to think the race has been won by Constitution Hill already. There will be plenty of horses on the course challenging Constitution Hill for the win, so don’t write off the race just yet.
Vauban is at odds of 12/1, according to Unibet. The horse is another Mullins-trained product. The five-year-old finished third at last month’s Irish Champion Hurdle behind State Man and Honeysuckle. Vauban can mix it up with the other horses in the race but will need to run the race of a lifetime to come out on top.
Vauban won at the Cheltenham Festival last season, claiming the top prize in the Triumph Hurdle. This season has been difficult for Vauban. Before losing in the Irish Champion Hurdle to State Man, Vauban finished second to the same horse at December’s Matheson’s Hurdle.
I Like to Move It will need to move quickly on race day if the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained horse wants to outrun the pack. The six-year-old won at Wincanton in February in the Kingwell Hurdle. BoyleSports has I Like to Move It at a fantastic 16/1 to win the Champion Hurdle.
Last year at the Cheltenham Festival, I Like to Move It was well beaten in the County Handicap Hurdle, finishing 18th. The horse has bounced back well, but against stiff competition, the Champion Hurdle may be a step too far. You may want to back I Like to Move It each way. The horse could place and surprise a few onlookers.
Champion Hurdle trends
Oftentimes, the numbers don’t lie when it comes to the big horse races. With bookmakers and tipsters considering Constitution Hill unbeatable, some Champion Hurdle trends may help punters pick out a winning bet. Of course, the data could simply back up Constitution Hill’s chances of winning the race.
- 10 of the last 12 winners were between 6 years old and 8 years old.
- 8 of the last 12 winners were the favourite or joint-favourite.
- 9 of the last 12 winners were in the top three betting positions.
- 11 of the last 12 winners won or placed in their last race before the Champion Hurdle.
- 10 of the last 12 winners won their last race.
- 9 of the last 12 winners ran within the last 51 days of the Champion Hurdle.
- 11 of the last 12 winners had run at least two races that season
- 12 of the last 12 winners had a minimum of one win that season
- 10 of the last 12 winners had a minimum of two wins that season
So, which horse will win the Champion Hurdle 2023? The bookmakers and early punters are going for Constitution Hill. The horse is a monster and could simply keep winning. Some horse racing pundits are already calling Constitution Hill the greatest racehorse of our lifetime. Despite the hyperbole, Constitution Hill has the chance to bring home the gold.