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2019 Champion Hurdle tips - Ante-post preview and three tips for main event on day one of Cheltenham Festival

Jonathan Vine in Tips 12 Dec 2018
Buveur D'Air (near) gets up to beat Melon (far) in the Champion Hurdle last year.

Our expert takes a look through the early ante-post betting for the Champion Hurdle and highlights three horses for punters to back in the main event on day one of 2019 Cheltenham Festival.

Day one of the Cheltenham Festival is known as Champions’ Day and features more Grade One contests than any of the other three days. The main event on Tuesday is always the Champions Hurdle - a race which has been won by greats like Hatton’s Grace, Persian War, Sea Pigeon, Istabraq, who all won the accolade of being Champion Hurdler three times during their illustrious careers.

The betting for this year’s Champion Hurdle was shook up after Gordon Elliott and Gigginstown dropped a, somewhat expected, bombshell at the end of October. Our expert has taken a look through the current market and highlighted three horses who look worthy of an ante-post wager.

2019 Champion Hurdle Tips

👑 The One To Beat 👑

Samcro shot to the head of the betting, after Gordon Elliott revealed he had talked to the lads and they had decided to target a first Champion Hurdle for Gigginstown. There’s no denying Samcro is a formidable hurdler, even at his young age, but I’m really not convinced that two miles is his distance. Jack Kennedy’s mount got better with every inch of the Ballymore trip as he claimed a first Cheltenham Festival crown last season and it’s impossible to say whether he was mounting a winning challenge when coming down in the Champion Hurdle at Punchestown.

For me, Samcro's inclusion has made BUVEUR D’AIR an even more appealing prospect in the ante-post betting and the reigning two-time winner has to be considered the prime contender for the 2019 renewal.

Nicky Henderson’s star hurdler struggled with fitness problems last season and was far from his best at Cheltenham, where he hated the heavy ground. Yet, Buveur D’Air still managed to complete the season unbeaten, summoning all his class in the closing stages to see off Melon and retain his Champion Hurdle crown.

I expect Buveur D’Air to be more active this season and there are few here in Britain who will be quick enough to deny him victory in races like the Fighting Fifth and the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton. I hope Samcro can maintain his form in the build-up to the Champion Hurdle, so when they clash on the grandest stage of them all, Buveur D’Air can show the Irish raider who really is the boss.

BUVEUR D'AIR - Originally tipped at 7/2


Following his stunning defeat of Samcro in the Fighting Fifth, Buveur D'Air was pushed into odds-on favouritism with most bookmakers. If the ground is no worse than soft come the Festival, I can't see any two mile hurdler out there who could thwart Buveur D'Air's Hat-trick bid.

Will Barry Geraghty be celebrating a third Champion Hurdle victory with Buveur D'Air come March?

⚠️ The Big Danger ⚠️

Some of you may think this is a ludicrous statement, but I fear LAURINA more than Samcro. In a recent stable tour, Willie Mullins said Laurina would be aimed at a tilt at the Champion Hurdle and she will be looking to follow in the footsteps of Annie Power by giving the colts a lesson in two mile speed.

Whispers drifting across the Irish Sea from County Carlow said that Laurina was the real deal and she certainly proved so when she arrived at Cheltenham. Willie Mullins’ novice took the tricky ground conditions in her stride, cantering to a lengthy victory with Paul Townend barely having to move in the saddle. It was a similar story two weeks later at Fairyhouse, as Laurina cruised to a maiden Grade One victory after an inch-perfect hurdling display.

Being a mare, the Mares’ Hurdle is an option, but I expect last year’s winner, Benie Des Dieux to be given another crack at that, along with the returning Limini. Annie Power ended her unbeaten novice campaign rated 155 - Laurina is currently just three pounds short of that lofty mark and I would be surprised if she didn’t return to Cheltenham as a strong challenger to Buveur D’Air.

LAURINA - Originally tipped at 10/1


Willie Mullins is yet to send Laurina out this term, but she could make her reappearance in the International Hurdle at Cheltenham. Samcro's troubles have helped Laurina move into second-favouritism for the Champion Hurdle and a strong performance at Cheltenham this month will make her original odds of 10/1 seem like a distant memory.

Paul Townend smiles for the camera as Laurina romps to victory at Fairyhouse.

♞ The Dark Horse ♞

Arguments could be made for Supreme champion Summerville Boy, or even 4-Y-O Anniversary Hurdle winner, We Have A Dream to be included in this section. However, it’s easy to forget that it was SUPASUNDAE who ended last season as the top two-mile hurdler in Ireland and I think Jessica Harrington should target the Champion Hurdle over another tilt at the Stayers’.

The 2016 Coral Cup winner won just two of his six outings last season, both coming over two miles. Supasundae lowered Faugheen’s colours in the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown in February and was on-hand to take advantage when Samcro and Melon came a cropper to snatch the Punchestown Champion Hurdle crown at the end of the season.

Harrington’s hurdler has performed with great credit over longer trips, losing out to Apple’s Jade by just half-a-length at Leopardstown’s Christmas Festival, before crossing the line a two-length runner-up behind Penhill at Cheltenham. I don’t doubt Supasundae has the ability to win over three miles, but he’s proven he has the speed to challenge anyone in the 16 furlong division and his extra staying power will come in extremely handy down the home straight in the Champion Hurdle. It will be very interesting to see which path Harrington takes this tenacious, consistent sort down during the 2018/19 season.

SUPASUNDAE - Originally tipped at 20/1


Jessica Harrington will have been pleased with Supasundae's reappearance in the Hatton's Grace. Apple's Jade proved too strong on the day, but Robbie Power's mount stayed on well for second ahead of some decent rivals. Supasundae's Champion Hurdle odds have come in a little since and I would be amazed if that isn't his Cheltenham Festival destination.

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2019 Champion Hurdle tips - Ante-post preview and three tips for main event on day one of Cheltenham Festival

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