The Champion Hurdle is the most prestigious hurdling event of the year and highlight of Day 1 of the Cheltenham Festival.
Former winners include many legends of the sport such as multiple winners Persian War, Bula, Night Nurse, Monksfield, Sea Pigeon, See You Then and Istabraq.
CHAMPION HURDLE TRENDS
Unless the ground is riding very soft, the race is a real speed test with runners needing to travel strongly and jump well to still be in contention up the hill.
Three consecutive wins for mares (in addition to Annie Power in 2016), suggests their 7lb weight allowance is a significant factor.
Indeed, there were only two mares in the field of ten in 2022 and they finished 1-2.
It is another race that has been kind to Willie Mullins and Nicky Henderson in recent years, with the pair accounting for all but five of the last 13 winners.
It has also been good to leading owner JP McManus, who has won the race nine times.
LAST 5 WINNERS’ DATA
In 2022 defending champion Honeysuckle proved that she is one of the greatest jumps horses of the modern era.
The unbeaten mare recorded her eleventh Grade 1 success, including three straight at the Festival, all in the hands of Rachael Blackmore for trainer Henry de Bromhead:
Blackmore had become the first female jockey to win the Champion Hurdle in 2021.
Honeysuckle never looked likely to be beaten and came home the comfortable winner ahead of Sharjah, who was runner-up for the second year in succession:
The mare Epatante travelled effortlessly throughout in 2020 and sealed victory with a quicksilver jump at the last.
She was an eighth Champion Hurdle winner for Nicky Henderson, 35 years after his first:
Espoir d'Allen left the field, including market leaders Apple's Jade and Laurina, trailing in 2019 after Buveur d'Air fell early.
He was the first five-year-old since Katchit (2008) to win the Champion Hurdle, under Mark Walsh for trainer Gavin Cromwell:
Buveur d'Air retained his crown in 2018, albeit the odds-on shot was made to pull out all the stops to beat Melon by a neck.
This time he was ridden by Barry Geraghty, who had missed his first Champion Hurdle victory through injury:
Buveur d'Air had started the 2016/17 season in novice chases, before being switched back to hurdles by Nicky Henderson.
He finished ahead of his stablemate My Tent Or Yours, runner-up for the third time in the race, to give jockey Noel Fehily his second Champion Hurdle victory:
Annie Power was only supplemented into the 2016 renewal a month beforehand, after her stablemate Faugheen was injured.
A beaten favourite at the two previous Festivals, including an infamous fall in the Mares' Hurdle, it was third time lucky.
Willie Mullins emulated his father Paddy in training a mare to win the Champion Hurdle - Dawn Run won in 1984 for Mullins senior:
In 2015 'The Machine' Faugheen led home his stablemates Arctic Fire and Hurricane Fly, for an unprecedented 1-2-3 for Willie Mullins.
Hurricane Fly was running for the fifth time in a race he had won twice with Ruby Walsh - who had chosen to ride Faugheen this time:
Jezki saw off My Tent Or Yours in a 1-2 for JP McManus in 2014 - a race tainted by the one that did not come home.
Our Conor suffered a fatal injury at the third flight, a year after establishing himself as the best hurdler of his generation with a 15-length win in the Triumph Hurdle.
Winning trainer Jessica Harrington added the Champion Hurdle to her two Champion Chase successes with Moscow Flyer, all ridden by Barry Geraghty:
The winner in 2011 and then third in 2012, the brilliant Hurricane Fly regained his title in 2013 - only the second horse to do so in this race.
He did not look to be travelling well in the early stages, but Ruby Walsh kept the nine-year-old in contention and took it on at the final turn:
Rock On Ruby 2012
Hurricane Fly gave Willie Mullins his first Champion Hurdle success in 2011 after a mighty duel with the previously unbeaten Peddlers Cross.
Having missed the two previous Festivals following setbacks, Mullins was relieved to finally get him to Cheltenham:
Looking back further, the dour stayer Hardy Eustace retained his crown in 2005, in a race that has prompted countless debates.
Paul Carberry sat motionless on Harchibald on the run-in, with Hardy Eustace and Brave Inca being hard ridden - and the rest is history:
Two years earlier, Rooster Booster was a runaway winner after the defending champion, Hors La Loi III, refused to race.
Winner of the County Hurdle 12 months earlier, the popular grey was cantering turning in and flew home in the hands of Richard Johnson:
Five horses have won three Champion Hurdle's and the last to do so was the legendary Istabraq, who completed his hat-trick in 2000.
Winner of what is now the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle beforehand, he was denied a shot at a fifth Festival win when it was cancelled because of foot and mouth disease in 2001.
He returned for a swansong in 2002, aged ten, but was pulled up early by Charlie Swan:
Alderbrook became the least experienced horse ever to win a Champion Hurdle in 1995 - on only his third run over obstacles.
A top class flat horse, he was was only entered on a whim by his owner Ernie Pick after he read that ante-post favourite Danoli was coughing.
He was a first Festival winner for both jockey Norman Williamson and trainer Kim Baily, who had originally thought it an impossible task:
In 1987, Nicky Henderson's See You Then was another to secure a Champion Hurdle treble.
The talented but fragile horse was rarely seen outside the Festival, earning him the nickname 'See You When' and according to his jockey Steve Smith-Eccles:
The great mare Dawn Run won the Champion Hurdle in 1984, two years before going on to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Desert Orchid made his Cheltenham Festival debut in this race, despite still being a novice, but faded up the hill having made much of the running alongside Dawn Run:
John Francombe gave the Peter Easterby trained Sea Pigeon a super-cool hold up ride in a memorable Champion Hurdle finish in 1981.
He waited to halfway up the run-in to push the button on the eleven-year-old, who swept past his younger rivals to defend his crown:
In 1979 Monksfield won a ding-dong battle with Sea Pigeon, who he'd also beaten into second a year earlier:
Night Nurse, also trained by Peter Easterby, retained his crown in what is considered by many to be the classiest renewal of hurdling's blue riband event in 1977.
It also featured the likes of Monksfield, Sea Pigeon, Bird's Nest and Dramatist.
Indeed, Monksfield went on to win the next two renewals and Sea Pigeon (runner-up in 1978 & 1979) the following two.
A household name, Night Nurse, ended the season with the highest ever Timeform rating for a hurdler of 182, and he went on to finish runner-up in the 1981 Cheltenham Gold Cup.
The brilliant Bula used his trademark turn of foot in the closing stages to deny Persian War a fourth Champion Hurdle in 1971, the first of his own back-to-back wins in the race:
Winner of the Triumph Hurdle in 1967, Persian War then won his three successive Champion Hurdle's on ground ranging from firm to heavy.
His road to the 1970 Champion Hurdle saw a string of defeats, a bit of lameness and some breathing problems, but come the day he was unwilling to relinquish his crown: