With the build up to the Cheltenham Festival getting underway, lots of talk will be about who will bring home the Gold Cup, with a lot of horseracing fans overlooking the Champion Hurdle. A race littered in history, dating back almost 100 years, the two-mile, 87-yard race is for four years and older, meaning there are more experienced horses with trainers knowing they are capable of upsetting the Cheltenham champion hurdle betting.
Over the years, we’ve seen a variety of different winners. So read on, as we go through just a few to pick up the £190,000 prize over the past few years.
What a year it was for Rachel Blackmore. While a lot of people will talk about her success in the Sports Personality of the Year Awards and the Grand National triumph, things really got started in the year’s first showpiece event, as Honeysuckle was imperious en-route to victory in the Champion Hurdle. The World Sport Star of the Year for 2021 was in the saddle as the eight-year-old stormed to a win in Cheltenham — making light work of the course despite the conditions.
2020 – Epatante
The last Champion Hurdle to host a full capacity crowd, it still seems strange to think that the Festival was just a couple of weeks before the country’s first national lockdown. Nonetheless, the Nicky Henderson-trained Epatante took home first place in an entertaining race back in 2020, seeing off the likes of Sharjah and Darver Star. Coming in as a 2/1 favourite, the then six-year-old repaid Henderson’s faith after running well for the final 100 yards to secure victory.
Henderson said: “It’s a nice race, isn’t it? It goes back such a long time since the first one, which was I think was 1985 [See You Then], so it’s quite a long time.
“She was always travelling and you were always quite pleased with where she was. Barry gave her a beautiful ride. He always just had it covered and she has the gears.”
2019 – Espoir d’Allen
Every now and then, we see a shock victory come up and spoil even the best tips for Cheltenham in one of the big Grade One races. These occasions are few and far between, but over the last couple of years there have certainly been some memorable ones — Espoir d’Allen’s Champion Hurdle victory is certainly no exception. Coming into this race as a 16/1 outsider, it was definitely a surprise when Gavin Cromwell’s five-year-old set off like a house on fire, pulling ahead of the competition and after a strong turn for home, wrote his name into the history books — seeing off the more favoured Melon and Silver Streak, who had to settle for podium places.
2018 and 2017 – Buveur d’Air
It was back-to-back victories for Buveur d’Air in 2017 and 2018 — perhaps one of the best performers Cheltenham has seen in the past few years. Overseen by Henderson, who has dominated the competition in recent time, the first victory saw little competition, with Henry de Bromhead’s Petit Mouchoir providing the only noteworthy challenge, whereas the year later Melon headed the seven-year-old but a brave fight back ensured Buveur d’Air retained the title.