The Irish Champion Hurdle is a Grade One race run over 2m and held at Leopardstown racecourse each year in January.
In recent years, top hurdlers like Istabraq, Hardy Eustace, Brave Inca, and, more recently, Hurricane Fly, have graced the roll of honour and the race is always a decent guide ahead of the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival with Hurricane Fly the most recent horse to land both races in 2011 and 2013.
Trainer Willie Mullins has won six of the last 9 runnings so anything he runs is always respected, while it’s also been a big race for punters in recent years with 9 of the last 10 favourites all winning!
Here at TQ we are on-hand with all the key stats ahead of the 2020 renewal – this year staged on Saturday 1st February.
Irish Champion Hurdle - Recent Winners
2019 - APPLE'S JADE (8/11 fav)
2018 - SUPASUNDAE (8/1)
2017 – PETIT MOUCHOIR (9/10 fav)
2016 – FAUGHEEN (3/10 fav)
2015 – HURRICANE FLY (11/10 fav)
2014 – HURRICANE FLY (4/7 fav)
2013 – HURRICANE FLY (1/6 fav)
2012 – HURRICANE FLY (4/5 fav)
2011 – HURRICANE FLY (4/9 fav)
2010 - SOLWHIT (5/6 fav)
2009 – BRAVE INCA (11/4)
2008 – SIZING EUROPE (10/3)
2007 – HARDY EUSTACE (9/1)
2006 – BRACE INCA (6/5 fav)
2005 – MACS JOY (11/8 fav)
2004 – FOREMAN (8/1)
Irish Champion Hurdle Trends
15/16 – Placed in the top three last time
15/16 – Raced within the last 2 months
14/16 – Had won at Leopardstown before
13/16 – Returned 10/3 or shorter in the betting
13/16 – Rated 159 or higher
13/16 – Winning distance – 1 length or more
12/16 – Went onto finish in the top six of that season’s Champion Hurdle
12/16 – Won last time out
11/16 – Irish bred
11/16 – Raced within the last 4 weeks
11/16 – Winning favourites
11/16 – Raced at Leopardstown last time out
6/16 – Trained by Willie Mullins (6 of last 9 runnings)
3/16 – Went onto win the Champion Hurdle
The average winning SP in the last 16 runnings is 5/2
TQ VERDICT: The Willie Mullins yard have won 6 of the last 9 runnings of the Irish Champion Hurdle so their main runners – Sharjah and Klassical Dream – enter the mix. Of the two, the last-named is on a big recovery mission after flopping on both starts this season so last terms Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner does need to restore some faith in his backers’ confidence. Those runs are clearly too bad to be true, but he was still 46 lengths behind his stablemate – Sharjah – that day so I’d much rather be on that one of the Mullins runners. He has Petit Mouchoir 3 ¾ lengths back in second that day too so can be expected to have the beating of that one again here. However, it’s not going to be easy giving 7lbs away to the ‘mare of the moment’ – HONEYSUCKLE – who bolted-up at Fairyhouse in the Grace Hatton Hurdle over Christmas by an easy 9 lengths. She’s a high-class mare that looks to have a huge future and is now 6-from-6 over hurdles. Those looking to take her on might cling to the fact that she’s never raced at Leopardstown and that only 1 of the last 11 winners of this race were second season hurdlers. In contrast, the favourites have won 11 of the last 16 (69%) and with little depth to the race I’ll be taking her to remain unbeaten and keep her star status in-tact. Of the rest, the 2018 winner of this race – SUPASUNDAE (e/w) – looks best of those at bigger prices. He’s now a 10 year-old but older horses have an okay record in the race with Hurricane Fly winning this at a 10 and 11 year-old.