Stats Guide

Stan James Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy (Grade 1)

15:20 Cheltenham Tue 13 March

Stan James Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy (Grade 1) (Class 1)  (4YO plus)


Winner £210,715 - 10 ran

2m 110y

Last year’s race

Hurricane Fly
  • Winner: Hurricane Fly
  • Jockey: Ruby Walsh
  • Trainer: Willie Mullins
  • Owner: George Creighton
  • Age: 7 Weight: 11st 10lb
  • Starting Price: 11/4f
  • Season Form Figures: 111
  • Previous Best: 1st - Irish Champion Hurdle, Leopardstown

I would argue that the single strongest trend for any the four big championship races at the Cheltenham Festival is that 24 of the last 28 winners of the Stan James Champion Hurdle also won on their previous start so I can’t advise a better starting point.

And given that the last 17 winners ran during the same calendar year (two of the last three Champion Hurdle favourites and a second-favourite failed on this stat), I would make that the second the second most important statistic of this race.

The last three winners were breaking their Cheltenham duck in victory. It had previously seen to be important to have recorded a course success beforehand but that can surely no longer be viewed as an essential. However, a previous win or placed effort at the Festival before can only be viewed as a positive and 17 of the last 26 winners notched up a first-four slot at this meeting 12 months prior to winning the Champion Hurdle.

Only one winner of the International Hurdle (formerly the Bula) has followed up in the Champion Hurdle in the last 37 years.

Sticking with last Festival’s form and the previous year’s running of Champion Hurdle still rates as the best guide as seven of the last 11 winners finished in the first three 12 months earlier. Only Hurricane Fly of last season’s 1-2-3 looks set to take his chance this season unless connections of World Hurdle-bound Oscar Whisky have a u-turn.

The Fighting Fifth Hurdle in which Overturn beat Binocular is the new kid on the block though as three of the last four Champion Hurdlers contested that event as did last season’s runner-up, Peddlers Cross. Also respect the Kingwell Hurdle as that race has highlighted two of the last four winners (and five since 1990). A dodgy stat for Binocular, however, is that just one of the last 21 Christmas Hurdle winners to run here has won. Grandouet won the Stan James International Hurdle but only one winner of that Grade 2 race has followed up in the Champion Hurdle in the last 37 years. As for the best Irish guide, there is nothing between last year’s Rabobank Champion Hurdle at the Punchestown Festival won by Hurricane Fly and the Istabraq Hurdle at Leopardstown over Christmas won by Unaccompanied with four wins apiece in the last seven years though, maybe significantly, it was all four winners at the Punchestown Festival that went on to double up in the Champion Hurdle ten months later.

Katchit scores in 2008

We can’t discuss the Champion Hurdle and not analyse the five-year-old stat as they are now just 1-87 since 1985 (2008 winner Katchit being the one to buck the trend) which is very relevant this season with last year’s Triumph Hurdle 1-2-3, Zarkandar, Unaccompanied and Grandouet all being well fancied. In the defence of five-year-olds, however, during the last five seasons 16 have gone to post of which five have placed at worst and two more in Crack Away Jack and Starluck weren’t too far away either. Other stats to take on board are that the Irish are chasing a ninth victory in the last 14 runnings and only three of the last 21 winners did not appear in the first six in the betting.

At a glance summary

Finished in the first three in last season’s race
Contested the Fighting Fifth, Kingwell, Rabobank Champion Hurdle or Istabraq Hurdle
Trained in Ireland
Beaten last time out
Not run during the same calendar year
The Christmas Hurdle winner
The International Hurdle winner
Outside the first six in the betting

Previous Winners

Year Winner Trainer Jockey Age/Wt SP
2011 Hurricane Fly Willie Mullins Ruby Walsh 7 11-10 11/4f
2010 Binocular N J Henderson A P McCoy 6 11-10 9/1
2009 Punjabi N J Henderson B J Geraghty 6 11-10 22/1
2008 Katchit A King R Thornton 5 11-10 10/1
2007 Sublimity J G Carr P A Carberry 7 11-10 16-1
2006 Brave Inca C A Murphy A P McCoy 8 11-10 7-4f
2005 Hardy Eustace D T Hughes C O'Dwyer 8 11-10 7-2jf
2004 Hardy Eustace D T Hughes C O'Dwyer 7 11-10 33-1
2003 Rooster Booster P J Hobbs R Johnson 9 12-0 9-2
2002 Hors La Loi III J R Fanshawe D Gallagher 7 12-0 10-1
2001 No Race
2000 Istabraq A P O'Brien C F Swan 8 12-0 8-15f
1999 Istabraq A P O'Brien C F Swan 7 12-0 4-9f
1998 Istabraq A P O'Brien C F Swan 6 12-0 3-1f
1997 Make A Stand M C Pipe A P McCoy 6 12-0 7-1