Cheltenham Champion Hurdle Betting Odds

If ever you wanted an indicator of the popularity of horse racing in the UK, you’d only have to look at the packed stands during the Cheltenham Festival to discover the answer.

The four days of the Festival are the biggest in the Jumps racing calendar, attracting crowds of over 60,000 each day.

The main race on day one of the Festival is the Champion Hurdle and here we look at the race in detail before offering some advice when betting on it.

Cheltenham Champion Hurdle

The Champion Hurdle was first to run in 1927.

It is a hurdles race, run over two miles and half a furlong of the Old Course at Cheltenham. Horses jump eight hurdles in one complete circuit of the track.

The Champion Hurdle is the most valuable hurdles race in the Jump racing calendar, with a prize fund of over £400,000.

The topography of Cheltenham provides a perfect natural amphitheater for racing and watching runners in the Champion Hurdle bunch up as they free-wheel downhill to the third last is one of the best sights in racing.

To win a Champion Hurdle a horse has to have plenty of speed and traveling at pace means there is little room for error when jumping. Champion Hurdle winners tend to be slick jumpers that flick over the tops of their hurdles.

Current Top 5 Favourites To Win The 2022 Cheltenham Champion Hurdle

Honeysuckle (7/4) – After the brilliance of her 2021 win, where she slammed her rivals by over 6 lengths under a brilliant ride from Rachael Blackmore, it’s no surprise to see Honeysuckle at a short price to make it back-to-back wins in the race.

She has many things on her side too, as she is still unbeaten in her 12 career starts and as she’s only a seven-year-old, could still be improving.

The negatives would be that last year’s Champion Hurdle didn’t look like a strong renewal and a short price is off-putting considering we still have to see her return to the track this season.

If everything is well with Henry de Bromhead’s star mare though, she will prove very tough to beat come March.

Ferny Hollow (10/1) – The 2020 Cheltenham Champion Bumper winner looked to be one of the most exciting horses of the season when beating high-class rival Bob Olinger on his hurdling debut last season before injury ruled him out for the rest of the campaign.

Considering Bob Olinger went on to win the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at the Festival, Ferny Hollow must be considered a big danger to Honeysuckle this season.

However, we will have to wait and see if he remains as good as he was before the injury.

Appreciate It (12/1) – The Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, won by Appreciate It in 2021, is run over the same course and distance as the Champion Hurdle and regularly produces Champion Hurdle winners.

Appreciate It was highly impressive when winning that race by a massive 24 lengths and if he can improve again this season, he should hold every chance in the Champion Hurdle.

Echoes In Rain (12/1) – Echoes In Rain is the third horse trained by Willie Mullins on this list and one that went under the radar a bit last season. She won four of her five races, however, finishing up with a win in the Grade One Champion Novice Hurdle at the Punchestown Festival.

While that looked like a weak race, she is only a five-year-old and must be respected this season with the prospect of more improvement to come.

Epatante (14/1) – 2020 Champion Hurdle winner, who endured a tough season last time around when possibly feeling the effects of a back injury.

She managed to run on for third behind Honeysuckle at Cheltenham, and while that may not have been her top form, she finished over 12 lengths behind the winner and it’s tough to see her turning the tables in March.

Betting Strategy For The Cheltenham Champion Hurdle

The Champion Hurdle is a Grade One race, meaning it is not a handicap and all horses run off the same weight.

The exception is for mares – like Honeysuckle and Epatante – who receive a seven-pound weight allowance from the geldings.

Watch Out For The Mares

Of the 106 horses that have contested the Champion Hurdle in the last 10 years, only 7 have been mares, but despite this, there have been three different mares to win the race since 2012.

That suggests that the seven-pound weight allowance that they receive from the male horses is a significant advantage.

Certainly, when it comes to high-class mares like Honeysuckle and Annie Power, they would probably be able to compete on level weight terms, so the weight allowance gave them a serious edge over their rivals.

While this is well-known information, mares may still be slightly underestimated in terms of the market – an example being Honeysuckle going off at 11/10 last year when she should have been odds-on – and could still offer some value from a betting perspective.

Follow Cheltenham Form

Past form at the Cheltenham Festival is one of the most important factors when it comes to picking a Champion Hurdle winner.

Eight of the last 10 Champion Hurdle winners had at least placed at the Festival in the past.

The key novice hurdles to watch back from the previous year are the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, which both 2014 and 2017 Champion Hurdle winners Jezki and Buveur d’Air came third in the season before, and the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (registered as the Baring Bingham Novices’ Hurdle) which 2015 winner Faugheen won the season before and 2012 victor Rock On Ruby came second in.

The pool of elite two-mile hurdlers tends to be small, so horses that run well in the Champion Hurdle of the previous season can often run well again. Good recent examples are Hurricane Fly and Buveur d’Air.

Look For Horses That Have Form Over Further

While the Champion Hurdle is run over one of the shortest distances in Jumps racing, the unique demands of Cheltenham mean that over two miles a horse’s stamina is tested more than on any other Jumps track.

After jumping the final hurdle at the bottom of the Cheltenham hill, horses have a lung-bursting two-furlong climb to the line.

This means a Champion Hurdle winner needs to stay well and have plenty of speed.

To put this in perspective, only two of the last 10 winners had not won or placed over a trip further than two miles and half a furlong in their previous races.

Looking at horses that ran well in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (run over two miles five furlongs) that may drop back to the Champion Hurdle trip the following season, is another strategy when approaching the Champion Hurdle.

Notable Cheltenham Champion Hurdle Winners

Several horses hold the record for most Champion Hurdle wins.

The brilliant Hatton’s Grace won three editions of the race, between 1949 and 1951 for legendary Irish trainer Vincent O’Brien. In the last of those successes, Hatton’s Grace was ridden by jockey Tim Molony, who went on to win the next three renewals of the race with Sir Ken, becoming the most successful rider in Champion Hurdle history.

Persian War was the next triple winner of the race between 1968 and 1970, but then just came up short when attempting to win for the fourth time in 1971.

Nicky Henderson is the leading Champion Hurdle trainer with a remarkable eight wins to his name. The first of those came courtesy of See You Then, who then won two more in succession in 1986 and 1987.

More recently he has added to those wins with great hurdlers such as Binocular, Buveur d’Air, and Epatante. Those horses all share something in common – they are owned by J P McManus, whose horses run in the famous gold and green hooped colours.

McManus owned possibly the greatest hurdler of all time in Istabraq.

Trained by Aidan O’Brien the son of Sadler’s Wells was the archetypal hurdler – small, muscular, and lightning-quick over his hurdles – and amassed a huge following in his six seasons of jump racing.

The roar that greeted him as he quickened away from his rivals to win a third Champion Hurdle in 2000, was a sign of the affection the public held for a horse of a lifetime.

Istabraq won 23 of his 29 races over hurdles, including four at Cheltenham, taking home over £1 million in prize money.

Since then, there have been other great hurdlers who have won the Champion Hurdle. Hurricane Fly, Annie Power, Faugheen, and last season Honeysuckle became the next in a long line of greats.

Can she retain her crown in 2022?

Popular Horse Racing Bets

For any horse race, the type of bet you place is an important consideration.

This is because every race market is different, due to the number of horses running and the odds of those horses. Knowing the best bet to place in different circumstances can improve your chance of winning.

Here are a few common horse racing bets.

Straight Bets

A bet placed on a single outcome, for example, on one horse in a race.

These can be divided into different types of bets: win, place, and each way bets.

Forecast

There are two types of forecast: a straight forecast and a reverse forecast.

A straight forecast is a bet where you select two horses to finish first and second in a race. They must finish in the correct order to win the bet.

With a reverse forecast, the two horses can finish in any order.

Tricast

Much like a forecast, there are also straight and reverse tricasts.

A straight tricast challenges you to predict the first three horses in a race in the correct order.

A reverse tricast gives you a few more possible outcomes if you are not confident about the finishing order of your selections.