By News Team
Last Updated: 15th March 2021
Champion Day is here! It’s the first of four days racing from the Cheltenham Event.
The best novice hurdlers go to post for the opening race, the Grade 1 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, with the tapes going back at 1:20.
Last year saw a close finish, with Nicky Henderson’s Shishkin claiming the win. Which of this year’s runners will add their name to the history books?
The Championship race of the day sees Epatante looking to defend her Champion Hurdle title in a mouth-watering clash with Honeysuckle at 3:05.
The other races on the opening day include the:
- Arkle Trophy (1:55)
- Ultima Handicap Chase (2:30)
- Mares’ Hurdle (3:40)
- Fred Winter Handicap Hurdle (4:15)
- National Hunt Challenge Cup Novices’ Chase (4:50)
Who’ll take the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle?
Since 2010, Willie Mullins has trained four winners of the race, and he holds strong claims once more with Appreciate It at the head of the betting.
Last year’s Champion Bumper runner-up arrives at Prestbury Park with three wins from three over hurdles, including a three-and-a-quarter length win in the Chanelle Pharma Novice Hurdle at the Dublin Racing Event last month.
However, favourites haven’t had the best recent record in the race with just two landing the odds in the last 12 renewals – Vautour in 2014 (7/2 joint-favourite) and Douvan in 2015 (2/1).
And, the last seven-year-old to win the race was Captain Cee Bee in 2008, with horses aged five winning five times and six-year-olds claiming the top prize seven times since.
A battle of the mares in the Champion Hurdle
Epatante stormed up the Cheltenham hill to win the 2020 Champion Hurdle. She beat Sharjah by three lengths to give owner JP McManus his fourth consecutive win in the race.
This year, the seven-year-old is looking to become the 14th horse to win consecutive renewals, following the likes of Sea Pigeon, Istabraq and Buveur D’Air.
Her preparation hasn’t been smooth. After an easy win the Fighting Fifth in November, she struggled to land a blow in the Christmas Hurdle on Boxing Day. Can she return to her best form?
Honeysuckle joined Epatante at the top of the betting after her stylish win in the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown. It was a perfect ride from Rachael Blackmore who made an early move and kicked for home with her rivals seemingly treading water.
It’s 10 career wins from 10 starts for Henry de Bromhead’s star, who recorded her own Cheltenham success 12 months ago in the Mares’ Hurdle. Can she add her name to the Champion Hurdle roll of honour?
The winning runners and riders from Champion Day 2020
After day one last year, the Prestbury Cup standings were pretty even, with UK trainers winning four of the seven races, while three went to Ireland.
It was a strong start for both Nicky Henderson and Henry de Bromhead, who both trained doubles.
Henderson took home two of the Grade 1 races, including the Champion Hurdle, but it was de Bromhead who watched Put The Kettle On put in a slick round of jumping to win the Arkle, before Honeysuckle’s success.
Here’s a round-up of the winning runners and riders from Champion Day 2020.
|Supreme Novices' Hurdle||Shiskin||Nico de Boinville|
|Arkle Trophy||Put The Kettle On||Aidan Coleman|
|Ultima Handicap Chase||The Conditional||Brendan Powell|
|Champion Hurdle||Epatante||Barry Geraghty|
|Mares' Hurdle||Honeysuckle||Rachael Blackmore|
|Novices’ Handicap Chase||Imperial Aura||David Bass|
|National Hunt Chase||Ravenhill||Jamie Codd|