Champion Hurdle

2015 Champion Hurdle Result

Walsh And Mullins Combine To Win Third Champion Hurdle In Five Years With Faugheen

All of the hype that surrounded Faugheen in the build up to the 2015 Cheltenham Festival ended up being justified when the mount of Ruby Walsh made every yard of the running to win the Stan James Champion Hurdle and leave bookmakers counting their losses.

Faugheen was unchallenged for the lead which allowed Walsh to set his own pace and apart from a slight mistake at the second last flight that drew a gasp from the crowd, his ride gave him an otherwise faultless run. After the turn for home the 7-year-old son of Germany soon stamped his authority on the occasion and a superb leap at the last put the result beyond doubt with none of the chasing pack able to get near on the run in.

It was the third time in five years that the trainer-jockey partnership of Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh had landed the championship race, with Hurricane Fly being responsible for the other two. The Closutton based handler trained the first three horses home, with Arctic fire staying on well up the hill to to get within a couple of lengths of Faugheen ahead of Hurricane Fly who benefited when 2014 winner Jezki made a hash of the final flight and lost momentum.

Supporters of The New One who felt the horse may have won the previous year's race aif not for being hampered could have no such excuses this time as the mount of Sam Twiston-Davies was well beaten in fifth. Sixth home, Kitten Rock finished well ahead of Bertimont and rather surprisingly the Nicky Henderson-trained Vaniteaux came in 12 lengths behind having never looked competitive.

A Brief Intro To The Champion Hurdle

The four-day Cheltenham Festival commences with the Champion Hurdle, which is the feature race of the opening day. This renowned Grade 1 National Hunt hurdle race is open to horses aged four and above and is run on the Old Course at Cheltenham.

The field - of up to a maximum of 28 horses - run a distance of two miles and half a furlong, during which there are eight hurdles to be jumped.

The Champion Hurdle is the most prestigious hurdling event in the National Hunt calendar, ranking third in the National Hunt Calendar overall - behind the Grand National and the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

The race provides a real test to both horse and jockey - as it concludes with a punishing uphill finish in front of the stands, making it the favourite race of the season for many race goers.

The purse for the Champion Hurdle was just short of £400,000 in 2014, with the winner receiving £238,051. Since the beginning of commercial sponsorship in 1978, there have been only three sponsors – Waterford Crystal, Smurfit Group and now bookmaker Stan James, whose sponsorship started in 2011.

The race is the final leg of the Road to Cheltenham - a series of celebrated hurdles races sponsored by StanJames - comprising of the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle Racecourse (November/December), the International Hurdle at Cheltenham Racecourse (December) and the Champion Hurdle Trial at Haydock Park Racecourse (January).

The importance of the race in terms of status and reward attract highly acclaimed hurdlers, including recent winners Binocular (2010), Hurricane Fly (2011 and 2013) Rock on Ruby (2012) and Jezki (2014).

Cheltenham Racecourse generates gate revenues of £7 million over the four-day Cheltenham Festival, with a significant influx of Irish spectators enjoying the performances of the Irish-trained horses.

Over 200,000 pints of Guinness are consumed at the Festival - which also provides major retail opportunities for spectators - and around £1 million is bet on-site on each race.

History Of The Champion Hurdle

This famous race was first run in 1927, just three years after the Cheltenham Gold Cup was inaugurated. There have been five post-war triple winners of the race: Hatton’s Grace (1940s-1950s), Sir Ken (1950s), Persian War - who gained his third win in 1970 - See You Then (1985-1987) and Istabraq (1998-2000).

Only one horse has ever successfully completed the Champion Hurdle-Gold Cup double – 1984 winner Dawn Run.

Trainer Peter Easterby has enjoyed five Champion Hurdle wins, with Saucy Kit's triumph and double wins for Night Nurse and Sea Pigeon. Trainer Nicky Henderson has also had considerable success - as he added to See You Then's triple success with wins for Punjabi (2009) and Binocular (2010).

Dorothy Paget owned horses with four wins between them in the 1930s and 1940s, but the most successful owner of recent times is J.P. McManus - the Irish financier and racing legend. He has now scored five wins, with Jezki's 2014 success adding to Istabraq’s triple and Binocular.

2014 Champion Hurdle Result

Leading Owner J.P. McManus Lands A Famous Champion Hurdle 1-2 As Jezki Beats My Tent Or Yours

9 Grade 1 winners went to post for the 2014 Stan James Champion Hurdle, with Hurricane Fly sent off the 11/4 favourite in search of a third success in the event. With going described as Good to Soft, Our Conor hampered the New One when suffering a fatal fall at the third flight which was omitted on the second circuit and as the race came to a conclusion it was Jezki and My Tent Or Yours who fought out the finish with the former landing the spoils by a neck at 9/1 for trainer Jessica Harrington.

Champion jockey AP McCoy, a winner of the Champion Hurdle in 2006 aboard Brave Inca, had passed up the ride on Jezki in favour of the Nicky Henderson-trained My Tent Or Yours, allowing Barry Geraghty to celebrate a second success, having piloted Punjabi to success in 2009.

The New One had to settle for third, 2 and a half lengths behind the runner-up and Hurricane Fly was nearest of the remainder, a further 2 and a quarter lengths back.

The result gave JP McManus a fifth Champion Hurdle success, making him the leading owner, while Nicky Henderson remains tied for leading trainer with Peter Easterby on five wins each.

2013 Champion Hurdle Result

Hurricane Fly Becomes First Horse To Regain Champion Hurdle Crown Since Comedy Of Errors in 1975

The 2013 Champion Hurdle saw multiple Grade 1 winner Hurricane Fly follow in the footsteps of Comedy of Errors, by regaining the Champion Hurdle crown he surrendered to Rock On Ruby 12 months earlier.

Having previously given Irish trainer Willie Mullins his first success in the race in 2011, Hurricane Fly was unable to retain his crown a year later - despite being hot-favourite to do so.

Mullins was adamant that the horse was not at his best in the 2011/2012 season and so it proved - after the mount of Ruby Walsh ran out a comfortable two-and-a-half length winner over Rock On Ruby and Countrywide Flame to mimic Comedy of Error's achievement 38 years earlier.

The Fred Rimell-trained gelding Comedy Of Errors won the Champion Hurdle in 1973, but could only manage second spot behind the ill-fated Lanzarote the following year, before becoming the first horse to regain his hurdling crown - after taking the race in 1975, at the age of eight.

The only hard luck story of the 2013 race involved Grandouet, who took a heavy fall when travelling well four out.

2012 Champion Hurdle Result

Rock On Ruby Romps Home For First Champion Hurdle Glory

Irish-bred Rock On Ruby - owned by the Festival Goers Syndicate and ridden by Noel Fehily - won the 2012 Champion Hurdle against the odds.

The hot-favourite for the race, Hurricane Fly - ridden by jockey Ruby Walsh - was unable to reach either Rock On Ruby or Overturn, leaving Rock On Ruby to record a convincing win by nearly four lengths. 

Champion trainer Paul Nicholls was delighted with his first victory at the Champion Hurdle, particularly as Rock On Ruby had not started the season as a contender.

Nicholls commented: “I thought he had a chance and I had a nice charity bet on him last week at 14/1. I think he was the young horse against some older legs today and that’s made the difference.”

The win represented a good day for the bookmakers - as many punters were left mourning their losses over a few pints, prior to planning their bets for the remainder of the Cheltenham Festival.