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The Champion Hurdle is one of my favourite Cheltenham puzzles to solve. This is a Grade 1 championship race so in theory should be a level-weights contest. However, mares receive a 7 pounds weight allowance which this year could be crucial to the outcome.
Last year’s winner Epatante and Honeysuckle will both get the weight from Goshen, and these three horses are the current market leaders in the Champion Hurdle 2021 betting odds with Goshen top-priced 4/1 with sponsors Unibet.
Goshen was about to demolish the field in the Triumph Hurdle last year before unshipping the jockey at the final hurdle. Two average runs on the Flat and a poor effort in a Grade 2 hurdle at Cheltenham in December suggested the Triumph was a flash in the pan.
However Goshen’s Wincanton run in the Kingwell Hurdle last month, brought him right back into the Champion Hurdle picture. However, the horse was receiving weight from Song For Someone who underperformed that day.
So, of the two female horses, Honeysuckle is fancied to be unbeatable by Goshen with her allowance and she would be my bet right now.
Owners Not Given Third National Dice A Roll For Tiger
It’s been a tumultuous week for Gordon Elliott and is training establishment. Hidden amongst the negative coverage and his career changing error of judgement was the withdrawal of Tiger Roll from this year’s Grand National next month.
Whether the horse would have been allowed to run at Aintree under his care is now a moot point but Tiger Roll will not be attempting to win a third successive National.
The weight allocated by the handicapper was the issue. The owners, Gigginstown, aka Michael O’Leary, the CEO of Ryanair, and his brother, Eddie, thought their horse had been given too much weight. The handicapper gave him just one pound less than the three top weights.
Final Roll in the Hay
Most other professionals saw it as fair and about right based on the National form. However, the O’Leary’s hinted that Tiger Roll could run his last race in the Cross Country race at Cheltenham. A below effort could see retirement for the four-time Festival winner.
Tiger Roll had drifted out to about 20/1 to win an historic third National. On current form, the owners were justified in objecting to the weight the horse would carry in the National this year. However, the Aintree factor came into play but the owners have simply decided not to play ball.
Tiger Roll won the Festival cross country race in 2018 and 2019 before winning the Aintree marathon. The 11-year-old was 17 lengths adrift of Easysland in second place last year and is 8/1 with Ladbrokes to oblige for a third time over the variety of obstacles.
Born Survivor Offers Each Way Betting Value in Newbury Feature
Looking at this weekend’s racing the feature race at Newbury on Saturday (1.50pm) is the BetVictor Greatwood Gold Cup (Grade 3) a handicap chase over almost two miles and four furlongs.
Paul Nicholls trains the top two weights in Capeland and Grand Sancy. The latter was a beaten favourite last time out and has the form to manage the weight. The ground and class should not be an issue for the Bryony Frost ridden seven-year-old.
However, Born Survivor is an each-way alternative at 14/1 with Betfair Sportsbook who are settling bets for four places. The recent form looks ordinary but the horse has come down in the weights.
No wins in seven starts is not encouraging but Born Survivor has not been disgraced in much better races and could make the frame at a big price at Newbury this weekend.
We’ve all probably seen the Gordon Elliott picture which is massively damaging to the horse racing industry. There was a poor explanation and comments that the individual cares for his horses.
It does seem strange that a picture taken some years ago should emerge just before the Cheltenham Festival and Grand National. However, in my opinion there should be a ban and donation to a horse welfare charity.
* Horse racing odds quoted were correct at the time of writing. All odds are subject to change.