Strong field assembled for Champion Hurdle

Updated: 29/02/2024

Buveur D’Air (2/1 Outright – Champion Hurdle 2019 NRNB) and Apple’s Jade (also 2/1) head the 14 runners declared at the six-day stage for next Tuesday’s Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham.

The much-anticipated Festival clash between Nicky Henderson’s dual winner (above) and the in-form Gordon Elliott (11/10 – Top Trainer – Cheltenham Specials) mare was only confirmed following Apple’s Jade’s career-best, 16-length domination of the Irish Champion Hurdle a month ago.

Buveur D’Air’s odds have lengthened as the eight-year-old bids to become the sixth horse in history to win the two-mile hurdling crown three times.

Condeding a 7lb sex allowance has played its part, but so has his rival’s scintillating display at Leopardstown, with many believing Apple’s Jade can become the fifth mare to claim Champion Hurdle glory.

Laurina (7/2) is another leading contender from the distaff division and will attempt to repeat what fellow Willie Mullins-trained jumping star Annie Power achieved three years ago.

The daughter of Spanish Moon is unbeaten in six starts since joining the Mullins ranks and is already a Festival winner, having landed the Dawn Run Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle in 2018 by an incredible 18 lengths.

The Irish champion trainer’s hand this year also includes 2018 runner-up Melon and the improving Sharjah.

Other potential raiders from across the Irish Sea include Apple’s Jade’s stablemate Farclas, Gavin Cromwell’s Espoir D’Allen, the Henry de Bromhead-trained Petit Mouchoir, and Supasundae from Jessica Harrington’s yard.

International Hurdle winner Brain Power and smart mare Verdana Blue – who beat Buveur D’Air in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton – will be Henderson’s other challengers, while Ben Pauling’s Global Citizen, Colin Tizzard’s Vision Des Flos and the Evan Williams-trained Silver Streak complete the list of domestic acceptors.

Odds subject to change.

This post first appeared here

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