Epatante’s classy success in the 2020 edition secured a fourth successive win in the Cheltenham Festival’s Tuesday feature for the famous green-and-gold silks of leading owner JP McManus.
For all her victory was clear cut there was a sense that it may not have been the strongest renewal of the race, but one look at the ante-post Champion Hurdle odds for the 2021 running is enough to suggest she will have to overcome a far better field if she’s to retain her title.
The first Grade 1 hurdle on either side of the Irish Sea has done little to clarify the picture with a neck and a short head separating the Morgiana Hurdle 1-2-3 Abacadaras, Saint Roi and Jason The Militant at Punchestown.
Cheltenham Champion Hurdle 2021 ante-post odds and potential runners
- Epatante - 3/1
- Abacadabras - 8/1
- Goshen - 8/1
- Saint Roi - 8/1
- Aspire Tower - 12/1
- Shishkin - 12/1
- Honeysuckle - 12/1
- Buveur D’Air - 16/1
- Benie Des Dieux - 20/1
- Jason The Militant - 20/1
- Sharjah - 20/1
- Others - 25/1 or more
Champion Hurdle odds courtesy of bet365. Correct at the time of publishing and are subject to change.
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Favourite to win the Champion Hurdle 2021
Based on the runners’ chances of winning as implied by bookmakers’ odds.
Champion Hurdle 2021 latest news and betting analysis
Of all the leading Champion Hurdle contenders at this early juncture it was telling that Epatante was the one to shorten in the betting after the Morgiana Hurdle despite the fact that she didn’t run.
Saint Roi was sent off favourite but couldn’t wear down Abacadabras in the closing stages with a neck between them at the line. The pair now share 8/1 joint-second favouritism in the Champion Hurdle betting, while Jason The Militant has been cut to 20/1 after finishing third at Punchestown.
It was an improved run from Abacadabras after Gordon Elliott’s gelding had finished second to Aspire Tower the time before, but arguably the horse who gained most from the race was Saint Roi.
Willie Mullins’ County Hurdle winner was stepping up to Grade 1 company for the first time and would most likely have scored but for a few less-than-brilliant leaps as matters came to the boil.
Champion Hurdle winners of the last 10 years