champion hurdle

The History of The Champion Hurdle

Nestled within the esteemed Cheltenham Festival lies one of the most iconic and revered events in the world of horse racing — the Champion Hurdle. With a history spanning over a century, this Grade 1 race contested over a rapid two miles stands as a testament to speed, agility, and the enduring spirit of competition.

State Man currently stands as the heavy favourite and is as short as 1/3 in the Champion Hurdle betting 2024 to pick up the pieces left behind in the devastating absence of Constitution Hill. With State Man hoping to join a long list of standout luminaries, join us as we embark on a journey through time to uncover the rich tapestry of the Champion Hurdle’s history and the legends who have left a mark on its legacy.

Origins

The origins of the Champion Hurdle can be traced back to 1927. Held at Cheltenham Racecourse, this inaugural race was won by Blaris, ridden by jockey George Duller, and they received a prize purse of £365. From its humble beginnings, the Champion Hurdle quickly established itself as a premier event in the National Hunt calendar — attracting top-class hurdlers from across the country.

Early Years

Despite several cancellations in the early years due to factors like frost and World War II, the Champion Hurdle still witnessed the emergence of legendary champions. Hatton’s Grace and Sir Ken are two names that stand out, as both won three consecutive renewals each in the late 1940s/early 1950s.

Throughout the decades, the race continued to captivate audiences with thrilling finishes and memorable performances — solidifying its reputation as a showcase of hurdling excellence.

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Golden Era

The late 1970s and early 1980s marked a golden era for the Champion Hurdle, with the rivalries between Night Nurse, Monksfield, and Sea Pigeon captivating the racing world. These formidable hurdlers traded victories in a series of epic battles that lasted the best part of five years, thrilling spectators and cementing their places in Cheltenham Festival history.

Their duels epitomized the drama and excitement that have come to define the Champion Hurdle.

Modern Era

The Champion Hurdle is synonymous with unforgettable moments that have etched themselves into racing history.

From Dawn Run becoming the first and only horse to win both the Champion Hurdle and the Cheltenham Gold Cup to Istabraq’s remarkable three consecutive victories, each edition of the race has produced moments of triumph, heartbreak, and sheer brilliance.

Legacy

As we reflect on the storied history of the Champion Hurdle, we’re reminded of its enduring legacy and its significance within the world of horse racing. From its inception to the present day, the race has captured the imagination of generations of racing enthusiasts, showcasing the beauty, athleticism, and sheer excitement of National Hunt racing.

As we look to the future, one thing is certain — the Champion Hurdle will continue to shine as a beacon of excellence, inspiring awe and admiration for years to come.

This Year’s Contest

The 2024 renewal of the Champion Hurdle was thrown into disarray recently, as a video emerged on social media of Constitution Hill struggling in a work at Kempton. Trainer Nickey Henderson confirmed that the biggest favourite of the Festival in the Cheltenham race odds returned a dirty scope and they found mucus, but further tests were needed.

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That left the racing world on edge for days, and it was ultimately revealed that Constitution Hill would disappointingly miss the defence of his Champion Hurdle crown. “Very sadly we are going to have to admit defeat in the battle to get Constitution Hill ready for the Champion Hurdle and therefore have to declare that he will not be running there this year,” Seven Barrows said on X.

“He has undoubtedly improved over the weekend and seems noticeably brighter than he was at the end of last week and I really did think he was perkier when this morning. Unfortunately, the all-important blood test shows that although the figures have also improved they are quite a way from being satisfactory for a horse to commence serious training and to race in a week’s time.

There are three significant markers on the blood test all of which have come down since Thursday’s sample but are still raised enough to indicate that he has not fully recovered from whatever was ailing him.

The only way to continue the improvement is not to stress him and he obviously cannot run in these Olympic games if he’s not trained sufficiently. This is very sad for all of us and particularly Micheal but is in everybody’s best interests that we ensure we have a fit and healthy Constitution Hill to win back his crown next year.

As no further bulletins will be required, I would just like to say how much we have all appreciated everybody’s support and messages over the last week.

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Thank you all sincerely.”

Champion Hurdle

Source: telegraph.co.uk

What does that mean for the Champion Hurdle then? Well, it will come as no surprise that State Man was immediately slashed to 1/3 by the bookmakers.

The Mullins-trained horse, who was comfortably beaten by nine lengths by Constitution Hill in last year’s Champion Hurdle, has been in fine form this season with three Grade 1 wins in a row over in Ireland — including landing a second Irish Champion Hurdle when last seen at Leopardstown.

So, the Champion Hurdle appears to remain a foregone conclusion even in the absence of Constitution Hill.

While the race appears predetermined already, nothing in the sport is a certainty. So, who will be some of State Man’s biggest threats?

Irish Point is currently the second favourite at 7/2. The Gordon Elliott-trained horse looked more likely to go down the Stayers’ Hurdle route, but with Constitution Hill ruled out, the six-year-old’s connections are probably going to give the Champion Hurdle a crack.

He’s two for two this season, winning a Grade 3 at Down Royal on reappearance before romping home by 11 lengths in the Grade 1 Jack de Bromhead Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown in December.

If the ground is going to be on the soft, then Mullins should be wary of the danger Irish Point could pose to State Man.

Other Champion Hurdle entries include Lossiemouth, Iberico Lord, Not So Sleepy, Piped Piper, and Luccia.