Cheltenham Champion Hurdle Preview


I like to move it


Not too many sleeps to go now for racing fans, as the calendar continues to tick down towards the magical four days in March that represent the latest edition of the Cheltenham Festival. Kicking off on Tuesday 14th of March, and running through to Friday the 17th, the Prestbury Park event showcases the very best that the sport has to offer.

Each of the four days boasts a star attraction, and on Tuesday, it is the cream of the speedy hurdlers who take centre stage, as the runners and riders line up for the 2023 renewal of the Champion Hurdle. But who will join the pantheon of greats to have claimed this famous trophy in the past?

The Hot Favourite: Constitution Hill 1/3

Of the four championship-level contests of the week, it is the Champion Hurdle which boasts by far the warmest favourite in the shape of the Nicky Henderson-trained superstar, Constitution Hill. Variously labelled a freak of nature and a different species, this six-year-old son of Blue Bresil has at times looked on a different planet to his rivals.

Five starts over obstacles have yielded five successes, with the combined winning margins of those contests coming in at a yawning 77 lengths. Concerningly for his rivals, the biggest of those winning distances came at last year's Cheltenham Festival, when the mount of Nico De Boinville destroyed the Supreme Novices' Hurdle field by a ridiculous 22 lengths. Looking as well as ever in winning his two starts so far this season – both at Grade 1 level – if he is in anything like top form, he will likely take some stopping.

The Main Challenger: State Man 11/4

As good as Constitution Hill looks, all racing fans will no doubt be well aware that there is no such thing as a certainty. In the Sport of Kings, form can – and frequently does – go out of the window, even at the biggest meetings of all. If, for whatever reason, Constitution Hill underperforms, then the horse most likely to take advantage would look to be the Willie Mullins-trained State Man.

This one boasts Cheltenham Festival form of his own, having landed something of a gamble to win the County Hurdle at this meeting 12 months ago. Since then, he has taken his form way beyond the level of a handicapper to win four Grade 1’s on the bounce, including the Irish Champion Hurdle last time out. Looking to be still improving, he may at least give the favourite something to think about.

The Lively Outsider: I Like To Move It 16/1

There’s a big gap back to the rest of the runners in terms of the odds, with another of the Willie Mullins runners, Vauban, the only other horse available at a single-figure price. Last year’s Triumph Hurdle winner merits plenty of respect but, of the outsiders, the one I like best is the Nigel Twiston-Davies trained, I Like To Move It.

Another of the six-year-olds in the line-up, this one can throw in the odd poor display, but significantly does seem to like it around this track. His form figures over this trip on the old course read a perfect three from three, including an impressive success in the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle. He also arrives on the back of what looked a big career best when slamming the field in the Grade 2 Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton, suggesting he may be finding his best form at just the right time for this. It’s tough to see him troubling Constitution Hill, but he looks decent value to hit the frame.

Race Prediction

  • 1st - Constitution Hill
  • 2nd - State Man
  • 3rd - I Like To Move It

All prices quoted are with William Hill


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