Everything you need to know about the Cheltenham Champion Hurdle

The highlight of the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival has long been the Champion Hurdle.

The two miles 100 yards contest is the premier race over hurdles in the racing calendar and attracts the very best hurdlers in the UK and Ireland.

The Champion Hurdle is open to horses aged four years and over and favours animals with a combination of speed, obviously, but also stamina to handle the famous climb to the finishing line.

First raced in 1927 and won by Blaris, horses have to negotiate eight hurdles during the race.

Last year's winner, Espoir d'Allen, received £253,215 from the £450,000 prize pot.

Most successful horse

Five horses have celebrated hat-tricks of Champion Hurdle successes.

  • Hatton's Grace – 1949, 1950, 1951
  • Sir Ken – 1952, 1953, 1954
  • Persian War – 1968, 1969, 1970
  • See You Then – 1985, 1986, 1987
  • Istabraq – 1998, 1999, 2000

But of that group Persian War came closest to celebrating an unprecedented fourth victory when finishing second to Bula in 1971.

He is considered by many to have been the greatest hurdler of all time.

Most successful jockey

Ruby Walsh has won four Champion Hurdles on three different horses.

Successful in 2011 and 2013 on board Hurricane Fly, he piloted Faugheen to victory in 2015 and then the following year switched mounts to guide Annie Power to victory.

Tim Molony is the only jockey to enjoy four successive Champion Hurdle wins, on Hatton's Grace in 1951 and then forging a spectacular partnership with Sir Ken, winning in 1952, 1953 and 1954.

Most successful trainer

The legendary Nicky Henderson has celebrated a magnificent seven victories in this race, including back to back wins for Buveur D'Air in 2017 and 2018.

He was See You Then's trainer for his hat-trick of victories in 1985, 1986 and 1987, and was also successful with Punjabi in 2009 and Binocular in 2010.

Most successful owner

No-one can match J.P. McManus's eight wins in the Champion Hurdle, including last year's winner Espoir d'Allen.

Istabraq was his most famous Champion Hurdle horse, winning three in a row between 1998 and 2000.

He also owned Binocular (2010), Jezki (2014) and Buveur D'Air in 2017 and 2018.

When is the Champion Hurdle run?

The race has been traditionally run on a Tuesday, since 1980, but Sunday and Monday are the only days of the week it hasn't been staged!

It's first running was on a Wednesday in 1927, followed by Thursday in 1928. It was staged for the only time on a Friday in 1964, then had rare Saturday runnings in 1942 and 1945.

Tuesday became the established day from 1946 through to 1960, when it was switched to a Wednesday until finally reverting in 1980.

Has any Champion Hurdle winner ever won the Gold Cup?

Just one. The great Dawn Run.

In 1984 she became the second mare to win the Champion Hurdle then two seasons later won the most prestigious chase in National Hunt racing, the Gold Cup.

What's the record winning time?

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