Champion Hurdle 2019
LAST 21 RUNNINGS
4 of the 5 odds on shots have won.
10 favs and 2 second favs won – so the market usually gets it right between the top two
17 came from the first 7 in the betting
Winners at 33/1, 22/1 & 16/1. The other 17 were 11/1 or less
ALL 11-3 to 12-00
20 carried 11-10+
The race has been won by a mare only 4 times in its history (twice by Dawn Run) and once – out of only 4 to try – in the past 20 years.
Official Rating (OR)
ALL 13 with an OR (Irish runners didn't have UK OR's till 2008) were rated 153+
ALL the last 11 were rated 157+
ALL aged 5-9
7yo's are best with 8-59 (14%),
8 & 9yo's are the same with , 4-42 (10%) & 2-22 (10%) respectively
6yo's are 6-71 (8%)
5yo's have a terrible record of 1-63 (2%)
ALL ran 2-7 times in the past year
20 ran 2-5 times that season
20 finished in the first 3 last time – 17 won
20 had won over 2 miles and half a furlong or further
ALL had ran over that trip or further
16 had won over further – all the way up to 3 miles
ALL last ran 16-90 days ago
14 had their last run 31-60 days ago
Winning this more than once is not uncommon with Hardy Eustace winning 2 back to back, Hurricane Fly regaining it and Buveur D'Air winning the last two
Only the great ISTABRAQ has won it 3 times back to back
The Irish Champion Hurdle is by far the best trial for this, providing 7 former winners. Won in such an imperious manner and in such a fast time by APPLES JADE this season.
Next best is the Sandown Contenders Hurdle – won the last 3 times by BUVEUR D'AIR (including this season). 4 previous winners of this came from that race.
Two came from the Christmas Hurdle – won by VERDANA BLUE with BUVEUR D'AIR a short head second
Nicky Henderson has won 4 of the last 10 runnings
Nico de Boinville is 130-437 riding for him, Barry Geraghty 28-52 & Davy Russell 3-10
Willie Mullins has won it 4 of the last 10 too
Ruby Walsh is 105-350 riding for him, Paul Townend 140-485 and Mr PW Mullins 89-252
A great race for favs, with 10 winning. But who will go off fav?
BUVEUR D'AIR tries to be the first since the great ISTABRAQ to win this 3 times running.
APPLES JADE, LAURINA & VERDANA BLUE are all mares
Only one mare (Annie Power 2016) has won in the last 21 years and only one, other than the the great Dawn Run, in the history of the race. These 3 look like some mares though!
So the first three in the betting – all under the 11/1 bar – have slight trends challenges.
How about the fourth in the betting?
Willie Mullins SHARJAH has only around 6L to find with APPLES JADE on a line through SUPASUNDAE (both having beaten that one in top Irish G1 races).
However, his 10 runs over the past year make him over-raced to be a trends selection for this.
Christmas Hurdle winner, VERDANA BLUE, has drifted like a barge since he all weather defeat 13 days ago, a lay off that is a big trends negative as no horse won this after a gap of 19 days or less. Now 16/1 sixth fav.
14/1 Mullins second string, MELON, has filled the vacancy for fifth fav but he would be only the second in the last 22 runnings to not finish in the first 3 last time.One of the trends is going to have to give or else we are going to have a shock result!
Looking beyond these, I can't see anything that looks like a Champion Hurdle winner. The possible exception would be Henderson's string – BRAIN POWER. If there's to be a shock, I think that would be the one. But I can't see it.
I have come tothe conclusion I am over thinking this!
Let's start at first principles. I always start wth the market.
17 of the last 21 winners were returned 11/1 or less.
This leaves us with 3:
First we don't know who will go off fav but as I write (Sunday night) APPLES JADE is generally 2/1 fav.
This is the horse I was referring to when I asked if she was a flat track bully or a Cheltenham champ?
She has a 5-5 record on flat tracks – with a best Racing Post Rating (RPR) of 168.
But her Cheltenham record is:
2016 Second in the Trimph Hurdle to Ivanovich Gorbotov, beaten just 1.25L and with Footpad a further 7L back in third. "Outpaced" (Racing Post) up the hill on ground that was much faster than is likely Tuesday. RPR was 142.
As an aside, in the G1 Juvenile Hurdle at Aintree (flat, sharp track) APPLE'S JADE turned the form round spectacularly, beating her Cheltenham conqueror 41.25L – "impressive" (RP). Possibly her best ever performance.
2017 Won the G1 Mares Hurdle getting an RPR of 150
2018 second to this year's mares Hurdle fav, Benie Des Dieux, beaten 1.5L and, again, gaiing an RPR of 150
I am not saying she can't win, indeed, statistically, if she went off fav, she would be the trends horse. i just think she is a stone or more better on a flat track.
Trends-wise, meets them all except she is a mare, which, is arguable whether that is an anti trends stat or not.
Current 9/4 second fav, BUVEUR D'AIR, has been there and got the tee shirt – twice. I have been following ITV's Matt Chapman's remarks about what the horse has beaten and whether he is an all-time great or not, like Istabraq.
Firstly, there haven't been vintage Champion Hurdles since the days of Brave Inca, Hardy Eustace and Harchibald between 2004-2006.
Secondly, Istabraq (who probably would have made it 4 if not for the Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak in 2001) only beat one really champion class horse in Hors la Loi (then a 5yo) who went on to win the 2002 Champion hurdle.
Thirdly, like Tyson or Marciano (for any boxing fans) he can only beat what's put in front of him.
BUVEUR D'AIR'S Cheltenham record is:
2016 Third to Altior and Min, beaten 7L and 1.5L in what was turned out to be a classic Supreme Novice Hurdle. Earned an RPR of 157 (7lbs better than APPLE'S JADE's best at this course!)
2017 WON the Champion Hurdle – RPR 170
2018 WON the Champion Hurdle RPR 167
His best RPR at this course is 20lbs better than that of his market rival!
Another who ticks al the trends boxes but must emulate Istabraq and make it 3 on the spin.
My only problem with him is his defeat in the Christmas Hurdle at the hands of VERDANA BLUE.
This was disappointing as I thought he had at last come of age after his best ever performance (according to RPR) when winning the Fighting Fifth after a close season wind operation.
First of all, why did he need the wind op? Had he won two champion hurdles while gasping for air!?
Secondly, given his workmanlike 2L defeat of Vison Des Flos after the Christams Hurdle defeat, have the effects of that op worn off?
Which brings us to the 4/1 third fav, LAURINA.
Has only run once at Cheltenham and absolutely loved it!
It was last years festival and the race was the G2 Novice Mares Hurdle. LAURINA won it "effortlessly", "very easily" (RP) by 18L. True, it was a slow time.
Has since taken a G1 over two and a half miles at Fairyhouse ("easily" by 8.5L) and then two lesser odds-on romps.
Another who meets all the trends. The only 'abnormality' is she is a mare.
Could be a star.
With doubts about the course being optimal for APPLE'S JADE
And with the mystery of BUVEUR D'AIR's Christmas Hurdle defeat and whether his breathing is ok.
Willie Mullins' LAURINA is taken to give him his fifth victory in the last 11 years.
Only the second 5yo – of 64 to try – to win this. Great effort from ESPERE D'ALAINE to win a race like this 15L.
NOT a trends winner!
LAURINA was "never going" according to Ruby Walsh. On a line though Mullin's Stormy Ireland she held the winner but that was over two and a half miles.
Would be of interest in the big G1 over two and a h alf miles at Aintree (might meet APPLE'S JADE again – I was right about one thing!).
Shame that BUVEUR D'AIR never got to prove whether he is a true champ or not with an uncharacteristic sloppy jump causing him to fall early on.