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 8 runnings so anything he runs is always respected, while it’s also been a big race for punters in recent years with 8 of the last 9 favourites all winning!
Here at TQ we are on-hand with all the key stats ahead of the 2019 renewal – this year staged on Sunday 3rd February.
Irish Champion Hurdle – Recent Winners
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
14/15 – Placed in the top three last time
14/15 – Raced within the last 2 months
13/15 – Had won at Leopardstown before
12/15 – Returned 10/3 or shorter in the betting
12/15 – Rated 159 or higher
12/15 – Winning distance – 1 length or more
11/15 – Irish bred
11/15 – Went onto finish in the top six of that season’s Champion Hurdle
11/15 – Raced within the last 4 weeks
11/15 – Won last time out
10/15 – Winning favourites
10/15 – Raced at Leopardstown last time out
6/15 – Trained by Willie Mullins (6 of last 8 runnings)
3/15 – Went onto win the Champion Hurdle
The average winning SP in the last 15 runnings is 5/2
TQ VERDICT: Willie Mullins has won this race six times, so he’ll be pinning his hopes on Melon to try and make it ‘Seventh Heaven’ for the popular Irish handler. However, despite being the top-rated in the field he’s a horse that’s won just one of this last eight and also flopped in this race when only fifth last year. He’s a classy sort but simply doesn’t win enough for me. Supasundae won the prize last year and looks set to go well again. The Jessie Harrington-trained 9 year-old powered to a 2 ¼ length win last year and it will be a brave man to say he won’t go close again here. However, there is one fly in the ointment ahead of his chance – a certain APPLE’S JADE. This popular mare is a winning machine that’s won 8 of her last 10 starts and 13 of her 19 career runs in total. More importantly she’s got three big factors on her side. Firstly, she’s 3-from-3 at Leopardstown, secondly, she gets a handy 7lbs from Melon and Supasundae, and finally the last three times she’s race against Supasundae she’s won each time! Okay, the drop back to 2 miles might not be ideal as she’s been doing all her running over 2m4f and 3m since 2016, but she’s still only 7 years-old so should still have plenty of pace for this and the fact we know she also stays further could be a lethal combination at a track we know she loves.