THE CHAMPION HURDLE
A Grade 1 Class 1 Championship Hurdle over 2 Miles and 87 Yards
The Unibet Champion Hurdle is a Grade 1 Hurdle.
The Champion Hurdle is the most prestigious hurdle race in the whole calendar and is run for the best hurdlers and takes place on the opening day of the Cheltenham festival.
First Run in 1927 this is the top class hurdle race that all top class two mile hurdlers are aimed at all season
There have been many multiple winners and the last triple winner was Istabraq 1998/1999/2000.
2020 Race Conditions For 4yo+ which are allotted a rating of 130 or more by the BHA Handicapper following a review of the horses entered and after taking account of races run up to and including the day prior to confirmation. Horses which are not qualified for a rating in Great Britain, Ireland or France may also be entered. Such horses may be eligible providing the Handicapper is satisfied that the horse's racecourse performances up to and including the day prior to confirmation would merit a minimum rating of 130. The decision of the BHA Handicapper shall be final. Weights 4yo 11st 2lb; 5yo+ 11st 10lb Allowances fillies and mares 7lb
LIST OF RUNNERS
|1||-64231||Ballyandy (GB)||9||11st 10lbs||Nigel Twiston-Davies||Sam Twiston-Davies||155|
|2||73-212||Call Me Lord (FR)||7||11st 10lbs||Nicky Henderson||James Bowen||157|
|3||1-11F1||Cilaos Emery (FR) H||8||11st 10lbs||W. P. Mullins||P. Townend||159|
|4||423-13||Coeur Sublime (IRE) T||5||11st 10lbs||Gordon Elliott||Davy Russell||155|
|5||31-113||Cornerstone Lad (GB)||6||11st 10lbs||Micky Hammond||Henry Brooke||159|
|6||511-42||Darasso (FR)||7||11st 10lbs||Joseph Patrick O'Brien||Mark Walsh||156|
|7||111132||Darver Star (IRE) T||8||11st 10lbs||Gavin Cromwell||Jonathan Moore||158|
|8||21-11P||Fusil Raffles (FR)||5||11st 10lbs||Nicky Henderson||Daryl Jacob||150|
|9||31260||Gumball (FR) H||6||11st 10lbs||Philip Hobbs||Richard Johnson||152|
|10||1-1484||Le Patriote (FR) B||8||11st 10lbs||Dr Richard Newland||Charlie Hammond||150|
|11||15-110||Not So Sleepy (GB) T||8||11st 10lbs||Hughie Morrison||Jonathan Burke||143|
|12||111-52||Pentland Hills (IRE)||5||11st 10lbs||Nicky Henderson||Nico de Boinville||157|
|13||44223||Petit Mouchoir (FR) p||9||11st 10lbs||Henry de Bromhead||Rachael Blackmore||158|
|14||1B-416||Sharjah (FR) T||7||11st 10lbs||W. P. Mullins||Mr P. W. Mullins||163|
|15||35-132||Silver Streak (IRE)||7||11st 10lbs||Evan Williams||Adam Wedge||158|
|16||271-24||Supasundae (GB) T||10||11st 10lbs||Mrs J. Harrington||Robbie Power||160|
|17||119-11||Epatante (FR)||6||Barry Geraghty||Nicky Henderson||Barry Geraghty||159|
THE 2020 RACE
Epatante trained by Nicky Henderson is owner J.P.Mcmannus' leading horse in the race.
Unbeaten this season she took the Ladbrokes trophy at Christmas time at Kempton racecourse. She ran in the mares novice hurdle ay last seasons festival and finished one-paced in 9th position after two good previous wins. She runs well when fresh and that's why we have not seen here since. She gets the mares Good chance today.
*****NON_RUNNER ***** Envoi Allen is an unbeaten 6 year old gelding. he was a good winner of the bumper at last seasons festival and has done nothing wrong in his runs this season. He has won 2 grade 1 novice hurdles on his last two outings but is stepping up in class now.
A good horse and a worthy favourite, but who still has to stamp his form at the top level.
*****NON_RUNNER ***** Honeysuckle is another top-class mare who has yet to be beaten in her career. She won the Grade 1 mares novice hurdle at the Fairyhouse festival last April in really good style. She was impressive when winning the Grade 1 Hatton's Grace Hurdle, again at Fairyhouse in early December. Her last start in the Irish Champion Hurdle while on first look was perhaps less impressive as she only beat Darver Star and Petit Mouchoir by less than a length however she did make a mistake at the last and was passed on the run in only to dig deep and fight back to win the race in the last 50 years or so. I think she will come on for this and will be better in a fast run race at Cheltenham. She is a leading fancy from Henry De Bromhead's stable.
Pentland Hills is another from trainer Nicky Henderson. Last year he took the JCB Triumph Hurdle to end an unbeaten season in good style. He ran too free on his first run this season and can be forgiven a poor run in soft conditions. His last run was much better he finished 2nd in a Grade 2 at Haydock on heavy ground just being caught on the line. I this was a good run and if he gets better ground at the festival he will certainly be a few pounds better. Supersundae is the veteran in this race at 10 years old. He is a really consistent runner and has festival winning form, he won the Coral cup in 2017. He was second in the 2018 Stayers and was an also-ran in last years stayers. After Cheltenham, he was tried over 2m 4f at Aintree where he ran well and got the better of the twice Champion Hurdle winner Buveur D'Air. His last run of the season he was tried at 2m running a good race but found a few too good in a race won by Honeysuckle. So consistent that it is difficult to leave him out of the reckoning but he could spring a d surprise. Sharjah could just be one of the forgotten horses in the race. He was 6th behind Honeysuckle in the Irish equivalent of this race and also had SuperSundae in front of him but I am sure he is a better horse than that bare form suggests. he was running well enough when brought down early on in last years race. He has won a Grade 1 hurdle this season but his best form was back in 2018 when he took the scalps of Faugheen and Tombstone in the Motgiana Hudrdle ay Punchestown. A repeat of that form would see him very close today.
Darver Star ran up a four-timer early in the season and showed good improved form in novice company and has stepped up on that form in two runs since. He was a good second to honeysuckle in the Irish Champion Hurdle and was finishing the best of all the horses. He will come on for that run and looks a live chance at a good price.
Coeur Sublime was a good second to Pentland Hills in the Triumph last season and can be forgiven from a not so hot next run. He started this season on a high winning a Grade 2 in Ireland. He then finished third behind Sharjah in a grade 1 back in December. A young horse with more improvement to come but this may just be a year early for him.
Fusil Raffles is another from the strong Henderson Yard. He did nothing wrong last season winning twice sandwiched by a good second place. Two good wins but was disappointingly pulled up in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton. He has a bit to prove now but if the ground came up good his chance would be improved.
Ballyandy is a nine-year-old Bay gelding who seems to have been around for a lot longer. He is a really good consistent type of horse who loves the soft ground. He ran 4th in the Supreme novice hurdle in 2017 and was 3rd in the Coral cup last year. He comes bang into form today with his beating of Pentland hills, if only by a short margin the Grade 2 Champion Hurdle trial at Haydock. Ballyandy is a really good horse and his price looks too big, so he could make a mockery of his price and is really good value especially if the ground comes up very soft.
Call me Lord could just be having one of his best seasons. He is another consistent type but I am not sure he is up to this class, although this is a more open race than we have had for a few seasons now.
*****NON_RUNNER ***** Thomas Darby in another nice young horse. Another stepping up in class. A consistent horse who has never been out of the frame shows that he has been placed well by his connections. He should improve but will it be enough. Time will tell.
*****NON_RUNNER ***** Samcro was on everybody's lips a few years ago. He was seen as the latest coming but has not quite lived up to his "Great Expectations". All that said he is a good horse. He has been chasing and did not look quite so good but may revert back to the smaller obstacles here. He would not be the most surprising winner but other has more appeal.
*****NON_RUNNER ***** Abercadabras is a young six-year-old horse. A French import who like the soft ground. Hid last two runs have been good but he is another stepping up to this class for the first time. Other have more appeal in the race.
Silver Streak is a great consistent grey gelding. He was third last year staying on well if a good way behind the winner. The good thing about this horse is that he does not need things to go his way to run well. He always seems to put up a great fight. His only chink is in a fast run race he can get too far out the back early on, If he manages to stay up with the pace he is a very smart as he showed in the 2018 Welsh Champion Hurdle. Best each-way value in the race.
Petit Mouchoir is another really good consistent runner. The problem with this horse is that although he always runs well in top races he has not won since October 2017. It is unfortunate that perhaps he is just below top class. Given how much he gives in racing it would be great to see him win one at the very top level but I suspect that he might need a few to run below par to win this.
*****NON_RUNNER ***** Apple's Jade looked like a novice to be destined for the top but perhaps has not yet quite got there. *years old and could be still improving her run and win in the Grade 1 hurdle at Leopardstown at Christmas was very smart. A month later she was pulled up and the jockey stated that "She was never going". is a bit of a worry.
*****NON_RUNNER ***** Verdana Blue was 5th in the race last year but then went on a month later to win the Scottish Champion Hurdle by 7 lengths. Ground id key to the horse and she needs genuine good ground. Any soft in the description (and there usually is) would not help her cause.
Cornerstone Lad is a duel code horse. He has been running well on the flat and also over the obstacles. He is the winner of this season Fighting Fifth Hurdle, a grade one at Newcastle where be beat Buveur D'Air by a short head. He very much stole the race by getting the first run but that is not to take away the fact that he won. That was on heavy ground and at the end of January, he was beaten into 3rd of 4 in the Grade 2 at Haydock. Untried at Cheltenham yet but no reason to think he won't handle it. Continued improvement needed today.
*****NON_RUNNER ***** Felix Desjy was 5th in the Supreme last season and then went on to win at Aintree Grade 1. Only one start this season when 5 lengths second to Kassical Dream in a Grade 2. More needed today.
Not So Sleepy is a recent convert to jumps. A reasonable horse on the flat and looks to be going the right way but may not be up to this class.
Elgin was 7th in the supreme in2017 and then 5th in this race 2018. has had a long time off and had wind surgery. Pulled up on return and there is nothing to suggest he might be a player here.
Darasso has been chasing, back to hurdles. Nothing in his form to suggest he can win this.
*****NON_RUNNER ***** Eldorado Allen young and progressive but not likely to make a big play here.
*****NON_RUNNER ***** Mengli Khan 3rd in the 2018 Supreme and 3rd in last years JLT looks better over a longer distance.
*****NON_RUNNER ***** La Patriote Out of form and may not be up to this class.
Gumball 3rd in the Greatwood here back in November may give a squeak of a chance of running to a place.
*****NON_RUNNER ***** Aramon Has been running in grade 1 races but well beaten on last two outings. Too much on his plate today.
*****NON_RUNNER ***** Mahaayed will not live with these and destined to be an also-ran.
*****NON_RUNNER ***** Nelson River seems to have little chance.
THE FULL RESULT
|Finishing Position||Form||Horse||Age||Weight||Trainer||Jockey||BHA Rating|
|1||119-11||Epatante (FR)||6||Barry Geraghty||Nicky Henderson||Barry Geraghty||159|
|2||1B-416||Sharjah (FR) T||7||11st 10lbs||W. P. Mullins||Mr P. W. Mullins||163|
|3||111132||Darver Star (IRE) T||8||11st 10lbs||Gavin Cromwell||Jonathan Moore||158|
|4||1-11F1||Cilaos Emery (FR) H||8||11st 10lbs||W. P. Mullins||P. Townend||159|
|5||44223||Petit Mouchoir (FR) p||9||11st 10lbs||Henry de Bromhead||Rachael Blackmore||158|
|6||35-132||Silver Streak (IRE)||7||11st 10lbs||Evan Williams||Adam Wedge||158|
|7||271-24||Supasundae (GB) T||10||11st 10lbs||Mrs J. Harrington||Robbie Power||160|
|8||-64231||Ballyandy (GB)||9||11st 10lbs||Nigel Twiston-Davies||Sam Twiston-Davies||155|
|8||111-52||Pentland Hills (IRE)||5||11st 10lbs||Nicky Henderson||Nico de Boinville||157|
|10||511-42||Darasso (FR)||7||11st 10lbs||Joseph Patrick O'Brien||Mark Walsh||156|
|11||21-11P||Fusil Raffles (FR)||5||11st 10lbs||Nicky Henderson||Daryl Jacob||150|
|12||31260||Gumball (FR) H||6||11st 10lbs||Philip Hobbs||Richard Johnson||152|
|13||73-212||Call Me Lord (FR)||7||11st 10lbs||Nicky Henderson||James Bowen||157|
|14||1-1484||Le Patriote (FR) B||8||11st 10lbs||Dr Richard Newland||Charlie Hammond||150|
|15||423-13||Coeur Sublime (IRE) T||5||11st 10lbs||Gordon Elliott||Davy Russell||155|
|PU||31-113||Cornerstone Lad (GB)||6||11st 10lbs||Micky Hammond||Henry Brooke||159|
|PU||15-110||Not So Sleepy (GB) T||8||11st 10lbs||Hughie Morrison||Jonathan Burke||143|
Permission was given for PETIT MOUCHOIR (FR) to be mounted in the chute; BALLYANDY and PETIT MOUCHOIR (FR) wore earplugs which were removed at the start and FUSIL RAFFLES (FR) and EPATANTE (FR) wore earplugs throughout the race.
Having reviewed recordings of the false start, the Starters were satisfied that no riders should be reported for contravening the starting procedures.
Daryl Jacob, the rider of FUSIL RAFFLES (FR), unplaced, was suspended for 5 days for using his whip when out of contention after jumping the final hurdle.
The performance of CORNERSTONE LAD, which was pulled up, was considered. Micky Hammond could offer no explanation for the gelding’s performance other than Henry Brooke reporting that CORNERSTONE LAD ran flat; the Veterinary Officer reported that a post-race examination of the gelding failed to reveal any abnormalities.