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The Irish Champion Hurdle is a Grade One race run over 2m and held at Leopardstown racecourse each year in early February.
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 11 runnings, so anything he runs is always respected.
It’s also been a big race for punters in recent years with 11 of the last 12 Irish Champion Hurdle favourites winning! Backed up again in 2020 and 2021 with the classy mare – Honeysuckle – winning the race for trainer Henry De Bromhead and jockey Rachael Blackmore. She’s likely to be back for more in 2022!
Here at JUICESTORM, we are on hand with all the key stats ahead of the 2022 renewal – this year staged on Sunday 6th February.
Recent Irish Champion Hurdle Winners
2021 – HONEYSUCKLE (10/11 fav)
2020 – HONEYSUCKLE (8/11 fav)
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
17/18 – Placed in the top three last time
16/18 – Raced within the last 2 months
15/18 – Had won at Leopardstown before
15/18 – Returned 10/3 or shorter in the betting
15/18 – Rated 158 or higher
14/18 – Winning distance – 1 length or more
14/18 – Won last time out
13/18 – Went onto finish in the top six of that season’s Champion Hurdle
13/18 – Winning favourites
11/18 – Irish bred
11/18 – Raced within the last 4 weeks
11/18 – Raced at Leopardstown last time out
6/18 – Trained by Willie Mullins (6 of last 11 runnings)
4/18 – Trained by Henry De Bromhead (3 of the last 5 runnings)
4/18 – Went onto win the Champion Hurdle
2 of the last 13 winners were second season hurdlers
The average winning SP in the last 18 runnings is 9/4
JUICESTORM VERDICT: Trainer Willie Mullins is expected to make a late call on whether he runs his talented Appreciate It here and takes on the two-time winner of this race – HONEYSUCKLE. Racing fans will obviously be hoping he does opt for the battle as this will give us a much better guide ahead of the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham next month. Appreciate It has many fans and a lot feel he can upset the recent domination of Honeysuckle in this sphere. He’s 4-from-4 over hurdles but the key is that he’s not been seen on the track since winning the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle on the opening day of the 2021 Cheltenham Festival by a massive 24 lengths! The reports filtering out of the Mullins camp suggest he’s improved further over the summer, but there is a chance he may well head to Cheltenham without a run beforehand – let’s hope I’m wrong. That said, if he does turn up here, he’ still faces a huge rival in the form of HONEYSUCKLE – the winner of this race for the last two seasons and should she grab a third win here then she’ll join only Hurricane Fly and Istabraq as 3+ winners of this prize. She heads here having won ALL 13 previous runs over hurdles so, once again, puts her unbeaten record on the line. We last saw her back at the end of November beating Ronald Pump by 8 lengths at Fairyhouse in the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle. As many know, she also gets an added bonus in these races as being a mare receives a handy 7lbs from the boys in the race, but she’s actually the top-rated in the line-up (165) anyway! Let’s hope Appreciate It turns up too so give the race some spark, but regardless it will be a brave punter that’s taking on Honeysuckle here – a horse that you’ll need Hercule Poirot to find any chinks in her armour! Of the rest, Zanahiyr ran Sharjah to a neck in the Matheson Hurdle here last time and at the age of 5 should have more to come. But is still rated 6lbs inferior to Honeysuckle and also has to give the current champ 7lbs. At this stage, Saint Roi, Echoes In Rain and Heaven Help Us make up the others in the line-up.
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