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Cheltenham Festival

2019 Champion Hurdle Runners Guide: Buveur D'Air And Apple's Jade Spearhead A Stellar Field Of Ten

Monday 11th March 2019
Buveur D'Air is bidding for a third Champion Hurdle win on day one of the Cheltenham Festival
Buveur D'Air is bidding for a third Champion Hurdle win on day one of the Cheltenham Festival

Ten horses will bid for Champion Hurdle glory on Tuesday 12th March on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival.  Reigning champion Buveur D'Air is bidding to emulate the mighty Istabraq by winning three renewals on the bounce, but the Nicky Henderson-trained star will face some notable opposition in the shape of Irish duo Apple's Jade and Laurina, while there will be some smart hurdlers bidding for glory in the opening day showpiece at Prestbury Park.

We take an in-depth look at all ten runners and predict our finishing order for the 3:30pm Championship race, which is run tomorrow afternoon.

No.1 Brain Power - Jockey - Nico de Boinville - Trainer - Nicky Henderson

Form This Season: 41

Ninth in the 2017 Champion Hurdle, Brain Power was given a brief career over fences before a switch back to hurdles saw him produce a career best when he stormed to a one-and-three-quarter length win in the International Hurdle at Cheltenham in December.  Rated 158, the Michael Buckley-owned eight-year-old will have to produce a monster career best to feature prominently here, and his price of around 20/1 is more than fair for a horse that will struggle against proven Grade 1 performers.

No.2 Buveur D'Air - Barry Geraghty - Nicky Henderson

Form: 121

One of the finest hurdlers of his generation, Buveur D'Air is the one they all have to beat in the 2019 Champion Hurdle.  A superb winner in the 2017 and 2018 renewals of the race, the Nicky Henderson-trained star is one of the slickest jumpers of a hurdle in recent memory and possesses a sensational turn of foot that will have his rivals struggling.  A shock defeat in the Christmas Hurdle to stablemate Verdana Blue left many questioning whether he still is top-class, but a facile win at Sandown Park on his last start means he heads into the Champion Hurdle as the one they all have to beat.

No.3 Espoir D'Allen - Mark Walsh - Gavin Cromwell

Form: 111

With JP McManus saddling the aforementioned Buveur D'Air then Espoir D'Allen will head into this race carrying the second colours of the famous gold and green silks.  However, this lively outsider is unbeaten this season, with the last of his three wins coming in a Grade 3 at Naas.  He has to find a lot of improvement to pressurise some of the more fancied contenders, but he is one of of the more unknown quantities in the field and if Mark Walsh adopts a patient ride on the 162-rated gelding then he could be a lively each-way contender.

No.4 Global Citizen - David Bass - Ben Pauling

Form: 2141

One of the outsiders of the ten runners, Global Citizen has progressed through the handicap division this season, and the Ben Pauling-trained star landed a career best when winning the Grade 2 Champion Hurdle Trial at Haydock Park last time out.  However, he was no match to Verdana Blue and Buveur D'Air in the Christmas Hurdle, and it's hard to see him land a significant blow here.

No.5 Melon - Paul Townend - Willie Mullins

Form: 44

Second on his last two Cheltenham Festival visits (2nd in 2017 Supreme, 2018 Champion Hurdle), Melon nearly upset hot favourite Buveur D'Air in last year's sensational finish to the Champion.  A top notch performer on his day, Melon has struggled to find his best form this season and was trounced by Apple's Jade in the Irish Champion Hurdle earlier in the season.  Willie Mullins will put cheekpieces on him for this test, so he will hope that can revitalise him, but while he has shown he can perform at Cheltenham, he will have to play bridesmaid once again.

No.6 Sharjah - Mr Patrick Mullins - Willie Mullins

Form: 31311

A breakthrough season for this six-year-old has seen him catapult into the limelight with some memorable victories, and he will be an eye-catching contender for Willie Mullins, and is another that will fancy his chances of playing a primary role in the finish.  A winner of the Morgiana Hurdle and Ryanair Hurdle has seen the six-year-old take the scalps of Faugheen and Supasundae, and while he will need more to win here he is still open for improvement and must be respected.

No.7 Silver Streak - Adam Wedge - Evan Williams

Form: 11222

A ultra-consistent performer at the lower level, Silver Streak is entitled to take his place in this race, but it's hard to see him being able to make his presence known.  Beaten by Brain Power and Global Citizen already this season, Evan Williams' charge will find this test all a little hot and he can't be fancied at the lofty odds.

No.8 Apple's Jade - Jack Kennedy - Gordon Elliott

Form: 1111

No horse is heading to the Cheltenham Festival in as good as form as Apple's Jade, who will be aiming to make the most of the mares allowance and make it five wins on the spin this season. Three Grade 1s and a Grade 2 win this season has forced connections hands to run her in the Champion Hurdle instead of the Mares' Hurdle, and she is entitled to be heading the betting.  However, her form at Cheltenham is questionable (one win in three visits) and with winning form over three miles she could just lack that much-needed turn of pace to get the better of Buveur D'Air, and while she will set a fierce gallop she could just set it up for Buveur D'Air.

No.9 Laurina - Ruby Walsh - Willie Mullins

Form:11

Last year's emphatic 18-length winner of the Mares' Novices' Hurdle, Laurina has been launched into greatness by the racing world following that annihilation of her rivals in that Cheltenham Festival race.  Two easy wins in the company of fellow mares this season has shown she is in decent form, but this is a whole new test for her to take on the boys, and while she is open to some improvement, she may finally reach her ceiling and will struggle to even make the frame.

No.10 Verdana Blue - Davy Russell - Nicky Henderson

Form: 1114212

Verdana Blue has been switched between the Flat and National Hunt this season, and her career best came when she edged out her stablemate Buveur D'Air in the Christmas Hurdle in one of the shocks of the season.  A classy performer on her day, it's hard to see her frank that form with Buveur D'Air and while many will see her as an each-way option, she will just struggle to deal with a fast pace from the outset and will finish out the back.

Predicted Champion Hurdle Finish:

1st: Buveur D'Air, 2nd: Apple's Jade, 3rd: Espoir D'Allen

2019 Champion Hurdle Odds

Apples Jade J W Kennedy / G Elliott 9/4 9/4 2 2 9/4 5/2 9/4 2
Laurina R Walsh / W P Mullins 5/2 5/2 5/2 5/2 5/2 11/4 5/2 5/2
Buveur DAir B J Geraghty / N J Henderson 11/4 11/4 11/4 11/4 11/4 3 11/4 11/4
Espoir DAllen M P Walsh / G P Cromwell 16 16 16 16 16 16 16 16
Melon P Townend / W P Mullins 16 16 16 16 16 16 16 16
Sharjah Mr P W Mullins / W P Mullins 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20
Brain Power Nico de Boinville / N J Henderson 33 33 33 33 33 40 33 33
Verdana Blue D N Russell / N J Henderson 33 33 33 33 33 40 33 33
Global Citizen D Bass / B Pauling 50 50 50 50 50 50 50 50
Silver Streak Adam Wedge / Evan Williams 66 66 80 80 66 66 66 80
Each Way Terms 3
1/5
3
1/5
- 3
1/5
3
1/5
3
1/4
3
1/5
3
1/5

2019 Champion Hurdle Odds

BEST ODDS
1. Apples Jade J W Kennedy / G Elliott
5/2
FREE BET ODDS
5/2
9/4
9/4
9/4
9/4
2
2
2
2. Laurina R Walsh / W P Mullins
11/4
FREE BET ODDS
11/4
5/2
5/2
5/2
5/2
5/2
5/2
3. Buveur DAir B J Geraghty / N J Henderson
3
FREE BET ODDS
3
11/4
11/4
11/4
11/4
11/4
11/4
4. Espoir DAllen M P Walsh / G P Cromwell
16
FREE BET ODDS
16
16
16
16
16
16
16
16
5. Melon P Townend / W P Mullins
16
FREE BET ODDS
16
16
16
16
16
16
16
16
6. Sharjah Mr P W Mullins / W P Mullins
20
FREE BET ODDS
20
20
20
20
20
20
20
20
7. Brain Power Nico de Boinville / N J Henderson
40
FREE BET ODDS
40
33
33
33
33
33
33
33
8. Verdana Blue D N Russell / N J Henderson
40
FREE BET ODDS
40
33
33
33
33
33
33
33
9. Global Citizen D Bass / B Pauling
50
FREE BET ODDS
50
50
50
50
50
50
50
50
10. Silver Streak Adam Wedge / Evan Williams
80
FREE BET ODDS
80
80
80
66
66
66
66
66
Odds correct as of 11th Apr, 15:30 . Odds are subject to change.
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