Champion Hurdle Trends – Cheltenham 2015
For some, the first day of Cheltenham features the biggest race of the entire four-day meeting, namely the Champion Hurdle, an event that crowns the best 2m hurdler around.
Age & Experience
It would be foolhardy to write off any runners in this race based purely on age, as both Hurricane Fly and Rooster Booster came home in front as 9yo’s, which suggests punters should keep their options open with those in the 6-9yo bracket. The last winner to come from outside that group was the 5yo, Katchit, in 2008, while prior to that you had to go back 23 years when the triple-winner, See You Then triumphed in 1985.
As for the quality of past winners judged on what they achieved prior to facing the starter at Cheltenham, then a solid yardstick was to stick with those officially rated 159 or higher – the three Irish-trained winners never had a British rating. Those rated lower than 159 accounted for 47 losers since 2005, a fact worth bearing in mind.
Winning form during the current season was a pre-requisite, as each of the last 10 Champion Hurdle winners all tasted victory during their three previous outings. As an extra filter, preference goes to Irish-bred runners who catered for seven winners (10%) at twice the strike-rate of the remainder (5%).
There may also be a case for favouring those who had been more active in the three months pre-Cheltenham, as runners who raced 2-3 times during that period struck eight times (8-69, 12%) – those with 0-1 runs were only 2-59 (3%).
As for the key trials, then make a note of those who ran in either the Irish Champion Hurdle (produced 4 winners) or Kingwell Hurdle (2 winners).
With winners of this returning at odds of 9/1, 11/1, 22/1, 10/1 and 16/1 since 2005, it may seem that the betting is an unreliable guide, but while that is true to some extent,
it’s still worth noting that all bar two of the last 10 winners emerged from the top six in the market.
Trainers & Jockeys
The mighty See You Then was mentioned earlier as being a three-times winner of the race for Nicky Henderson during the eighties, and the same trainer struck twice in 2009 and 2010. Willie Mullins also tasted success twice, along with jockey Ruby Walsh, while Tony McCoy won it three times since 1997.
During the last 10 years, the score stands at 6-4 in favour of the Irish taking on the Brits in their own backyard.
Trends Summary (British & Irish form only)
10 were rated 159-173 (12%) or Irish-trained (no rating) – others were 0-47
10 won during their last three outings – others were 0-40
9 were 6-9yo’s (10%) – others were 1-44 (2%)
8 came from the first six in the betting (13%) – others were 2-69 (3%)
7 were Irish-bred (10%) – others were 3-61 (5%)
N Henderson and W Mullins won it 2 times apiece