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Cheltenham Festival 2021 Ante-post: Champion Hurdle

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Posted in: Cheltenham Festival Tips

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Timeform's John Ingles take a long-range look at the 2021 Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and gives you his best ante-post bet, a 10/1 chance who was narrowly beaten at this year's Festival.

Despite the largest field since 2009, the list of notable absentees from this year’s Champion Hurdle was a long one and the winner, Epatante, taking her mare’s allowance into account, earned a Timeform rating that’s as low as any winner this century. Epatante is a high-class mare who has more to offer after just one defeat over hurdles to date and was a ready three-length winner from Sharjah, a faller in the race the year before. However, she looks worth taking on as the current ante-post favourite to win again in 2021, with a potentially stiffer task ahead of her in her bid to follow up.


Goshen, on the other hand, would have been an above-average winner of the Triumph Hurdle had he not blundered and unseated at the last when in control and ten lengths clear. An easy winner of his three completed starts, he had jumped well until his departure and looks sure to make an impact in open company next season, though again he is priced accordingly. Unbeaten Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle winner Envoi Allen is at single-figure odds in several lists, though there must be a good chance he’ll be switched to fences, along with Supreme winner Shishkin who also looks earmarked for a novice chase campaign instead.


Honeysuckle and Benie des Dieux would be interesting but the Mares’ Hurdle could lure them away again, as it did at the latest Festival, while there are obvious risks attached to former dual winner Buveur d’Air and Morgiana Hurdle winner Saldier who both spent much of the season on the sidelines. A more attractive proposition at double-figure odds is Abacadabras whose trainer Gordon Elliott nominated the Champion Hurdle as his aim after he had run a cracker to go down by just a head to Shishkin in the Supreme, having suffered his only previous defeat over hurdles at the hands of Envoi Allen. Abacadabras looks much more the finished article than he did in bumpers and, after travelling strongly through the Supreme, there was plenty of encouragement in that performance for a Champion Hurdle bid.


Recommendation:


Back Abacadabras at 10/1 for the Champion Hurdle


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