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Champion Hurdle Trends: Honeysuckle ticks the boxes for Cheltenham glory



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The feature race on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival (Tues 15th March) is the Unibet Champion Hurdle and all eyes will be on the current champion – Honeysuckle.

This Henry De Bromhead-trained mare was an easy 6 ½ length winner of the Champion Hurdle last year and is the clear favourite in the Champion Hurdle betting to follow up.

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She’s returned this season to win twice, including last time out when landing her third Irish Champion Hurdle at the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown.

Like most races at the 2022 Cheltenham Festival, there are many key trends and stats to take into each contest.

So, does Honeysuckle tick the main Champion Hurdle trends?

Did You Know? Between them, the Irish and trainer Nicky Henderson have won a staggering 19 of the last 23 Champion Hurdles.

Key Champion Hurdle Trends

  • 32 of the last 38 won last time out
  • The Irish and Nicky Henderson have won 19 of the last 23 runnings between them
  • 27 of the last 32 winners were aged 6 or 7 years-old (11 of last 15)
  • The last 7 winners were unbeaten that season
  • Look for horses that have raced at least once that calendar year
  • 24 of the last 37 winners were placed in the first 4 at the previous season’s festival

Champion Hurdle Trends – Main Runners (based on the six main trends above)

HONEYSUCKLE ✅✅❌✅✅✅          Back Honeysuckle @ 8/13 with William Hill

APPRECIATE IT ✅✅❌❌❌✅        Back Appreciate It @ 9/2 with William Hill

TEAHUPOO ✅✅❌✅✅❌               Back Teahupoo @ 10/1 with William Hill

EPANTANTE ✅✅❌✅❌✅             Back Epantante @ 16/1 with William Hill

ZANAHIYR ❌✅❌❌✅✅               Back Zahahiyr @ 22/1 With William Hill

ADAGIO ❌❌❌❌✅✅                  Back Adagio @ 20/1 with William Hill

TOMMY’S OSCAR ✅❌✅❌✅❌    Back Tommy’s Oscar @ 40/1 with William Hill

Note: Odds are subject to change

Honeysuckle Ticks Most Of The Main Champion Hurdle Trends

Yes, the 8 year-old Honeysuckle will one of the main Cheltenham Festival bankers this year and it’s easy to see why.

She’s the current Champion Hurdle champion and heads into the race now unbeaten from 14 runs over hurdles.

Henry De Bromhead’s mare gets the thumbs up on five of our main trends above – the only one she falls down on is her 8 as 17 of the last 32 Champion Hurdle winners were aged 6 or 7 years-old.

However, another classy mare – Annie Power – was an 8 year-old when she won the Champion Hurdle in 2016, while since 2005 we’ve also seen Hardy Eustace (8), Brave Inca (8) and Hurricane Fly (9) all older winners of the race.

Back HONEYSUCKLE @ 8/13 with William Hill

A Trends Look at The Other Main Champion Hurdle Runners

Appreciate It @ 9/2 with William Hill The Willie Mullins yard have landed four of the last 11 Champion Hurdles, but are on a five year drought in the race.

They have a live chance this year though with last year’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner, who many feel is the main threat to Honeysuckle successfully defending her crown.

He’s 4-from-4 over hurdles, but the big question mark is that he’s not been on the track since winning at the Festival 12 months ago.

That said, coming from the Mullins yard, he’s sure to be well-tuned up for this and they are certainly no strangers to getting one ready for these big Festival races off a break.

The main trends suggest he’s in with a shout, but those looking to take him on will look to his age (8) being a negative and also the fact most winners had raced that calendar year.

Teahupoo @ 10/1 with William Hill A very exciting young hurdler that is also stablemate to Honeysuckle, coming from the Henry De Bromhead yard. He makes his Cheltenham Festival debut but heads here having won six of his seven races.

He’s won all three of his races this season, including an easy 11 length success at Gowran Park in the Red Mills Trial Hurdle in February.

The trends suggest his lack of track (and festival experience) would be against him, but coming here off a win, unbeaten this season and being Irish-trained are pluses.

However, at only 5 years-old his age would be the big worry. Yes, we saw Espoir d’ Allen win the Champion Hurdle as a 5 year-old in 2019, but the stats tell us this age group are just 2 from 108 since 1985.

Epantante @ 16/1 with William Hill The 2020 Champion Hurdle is back for more this year and will be looking to become the first horse since Hurricane Fly to regain her title.

Like Honeysuckle, she will get the 7lbs mares’ allowance from the boys and even though it seems like she’s been around longer – she’s still only 8 years-old.

She returned to the track this season with wins in the Fighting Fifth (Newcastle) and Christmas Hurdles (Kempton) and was third in this race 12 months ago.

On that running though she’s got 9 ½ lengths to find with Honeysuckle. She does, however, tick four of our six main trends, with age (8) and not having had a run this calendar year the two negatives.

Zanahiyr @ 22/1 With William Hill Hasn’t quite progressed as many thought after a beaten favourite in the Triumph Hurdle at last season’s Cheltenham Festival.

He’s still won four of his 9 starts over hurdles, but heads here winless from his last three.

The last of those runs was a 6 ½ length second to Honeysuckle in the Irish Champion Hurdle, so seemingly has a fair bit of ground to make up of last year’s winner.

The trends seem him tick 50% of our six main ones – but does fall down on age (5), not winning last time out and not being unbeaten this season.

While his trainer – Gordon Elliott – is yet to win this race!

Adagio @ 20/1 with William Hill This David Pipe runner, was second in the Triumph Hurdle at the Festival last season and has never finished out of the first two from 8 starts over hurdles and is a lively outsider.

This season he carried a big weight to run second in the Greatwood Hurdle here at Cheltenham and wasn’t disgraced behind Goshen in the Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton last time out.

However, out six main trends see him fall down on four.

Running at the previous year’s Festival and having had a run this year are the pluses, but his age, not being unbeaten this season, plus not being Irish or Henderson-trained are the big negatives.

Tommy’s Oscar @ 40/1 with William Hill This Ann Hamilton runner has been a real improver over hurdles this season and has risen up the ranks to get a shot at the big one.

Last seen winning the Unibet ‘The New One’ Hurdle at Haydock in January and that was his fourth win on the bounce.

Of the top seven in the Champion Hurdle betting, he’s the only one that ticks the main age trend being a 7 year-old.

But he does also fall down on 50% of our six main trends, including not running at the Festival before, not being Irish or Henderson-trained plus not being unbeaten this term.

Champion Hurdle Trends – The Pluses

  • 32 of the last 38 won last time out
  • Horses unbeaten that season often do well (9 of last 11)
  • The Irish and Nicky Henderson have won 19 of the last 23 runnings between them
  • 9 of the last 13 winners came from the Henderson or Willie Mullins yards
  • The Irish have won 14 of the last 23 runnings
  • Owner JP McManus has won 6 of the last 12 (10 in total)
  • Trainer Willie Mullins has won 4 of the last 11 runnings
  • 27 of the last 32 winners were aged 6 or 7 years-old (11 of last 15)
  • 13 of the last 23 winners had won at the Festival before
  • 24 of the last 37 winners were placed in the first 4 at the previous season’s festival
  • The Fighting Fifth Hurdle is a good guide (4 winners, 5 places in last 14 runnings)
  • 14 of the last 26 winners started as flat horses
  • The last 7 winners were unbeaten that season
  • Look for horses that have raced at least once that calendar year
  • Trainer Nicky Henderson has won the race 8 times, including 3 of the last 5 years
  • 6 of the last 13 winners contested the Christmas Hurdle (Kempton)
  • Mares are currently 3 from the last 6

Champion Hurdle Trends – The Negatives

  • Avoid horses that failed to finish in the top three last time out
  • 5 year-olds are just 2 from 108 since 1985, but the 2019 winner was a 5 year-old
  • Since 1927 we’ve only seen 2 winners aged 10 or older (0-29 in the last 39 runnings)
  • Just 1 of the last 15 winners had raced more than 12 times over hurdles
  • Christmas Hurdle (Kempton, 26th Dec) winners are just 4 from 31, but – Epatante 2020) – did the Christmas Hurdle/Champion Hurdle double.
  • Just 2 horses have regained the race since 1975
  • International Hurdle winners are 0-from-13 (last 18 runnings)
  • Only 2 of the last 23 winners hadn’t raced at the Festival before

Cheltenham Festival Champion Hurdle Winners

  • 2021 – HONEYSUCKLE (11/10 fav)
  • 2020 – EPATANTE (2/1 fav)
  • 2019 – ESPOIR D’ALLEN (16/1)
  • 2018 – BUVEUR D’AIR (4/6 fav)
  • 2017 – BUVEUR D’AIR (5/1)
  • 2016 – ANNIE POWER (5/2 fav)
  • 2015 – FAUGHEEN (4/5 fav)
  • 2014 – JEZKI (9/1)
  • 2013 – HURRICANE FLY (13/8 fav)
  • 2012 – ROCK ON RUBY (11/1)
  • 2011 – HURRICANE FLY (11/4 fav)
  • 2010 – BINOCULAR (9/1)
  • 2009 – PUNJABI (22/1)
  • 2008 – KATCHIT (10/1)
  • 2007 – SUBLIMITY (16/1)
  • 2006 – BRAVE INCA (7/4 fav)
  • 2005 – HARDY EUSTACE (7/2 jfav)
  • 2004 – HARDY EUSTACE (33/1)
  • 2003 – ROOSTER BOOSTER (9/2)
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