Champion Hurdle 2019 Preview | RaceBets Blog EN - (2021)
The Champion Hurdle is the first championship race of the week and on the face of it, the race looks weak. Obviously, Buveur D’Air is the horse to beat having taken the last two renewals of the race but he not invincible as Verdana Blue proved in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton. Nicky Henderson has said we will see a different horse in three weeks time and perhaps we will but at odds of 7/4*, I’m more than happy to take him on!
Apple’s Jade heads up the Irish challenge and looks one of the more likely challengers for the Champion Hurdle crown. She has gone from strength to strength this season and her runaway victory in the Irish Champion Hurdle has forced connections to re-route her from the Mares Hurdle to the champion with Gordon saying recently:
“I was nervous coming back against the geldings over two miles (in the Irish ChampionHurdle), but she showed how good she is.“This year she’s gone from strength to strength. We’re very lucky.”
She was a beaten favourite in the Mares Hurdle at the festival last season but it was well documented afterwards that her being in season was the reason for a somewhat below form run. If she turns up in the same form as her most recent runs then she must go close but much like Buveur D’Air at around the 2/1* mark there is not much juice left in her price.
It’s another mare we take a look at next in the shape of Laurina, who had a recent prep run at Punchestown in a listed event where she proved too good for stablemate Stormy Ireland. She won that race snugly but will need to take a major step up if she is to trouble the front two in the market. After her most recent win Willie said:
“That’s job done and hopefully, we’ll get a clear run from now to Cheltenham. The Champion Hurdle is where we are aiming. That’s the owners’ plan and our plan”
Laurina was one of last season’s top novices and she has never really had to come off the bridle in six racecourse appearances. I think there is more to come from Willie Mullins inmate and she is my idea of the winner.
Of the others, Verdana Blue is a very decent yardstick and she has obviously already beat Buveur D’Air but I think she will struggle to uphold that form. Supasundae was soundly beaten by Apple’s Jade in the Irish Champion Hurdle and last season’s Champion Hurdle runner-up Melon has been a bitter disappointment this season.
The only other horse of note is the Gavin Cromwell trained Espoir D’allen, who’s only defeat in three starts, came in a Grade 1 at Leopardstown in February last year behind Mr Adjudicator. He gained his revenge in no uncertain manner on his seasonal debut this season and followed this up with a brace of Grade 3’s at Limerick and Naas.
There is no doubt that he needs to find bags of improvement but he’s one of the few juveniles from last season that seems to have improved and at the tempting odds of 14/1*, he’s got a definite each way chance.
*All Prices are non runner no bet.
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