Grade 1 race
Location Cheltenham Racecourse
Inaugurated 1927 Race type Hurdle race Sponsor StanJames.com Website Cheltenham Race information Distance 2m ½f (3,319 metres) Track Turf, left-handed Qualification Four-years-old and up Weight 11 st 3 lb (4yo);
11 st 10 lb (5yo+)
7 lb for fillies and mares
Purse £370,000 (2010)
The Champion Hurdle is a Grade 1 National Hunt hurdle race in Great Britain which is open to horses aged four years or older. As part of a sponsorship agreement with the online sportsbook StanJames.com, the race is now known as the Stan James Champion Hurdle. It is run on the Old Course at Cheltenham over a distance of about 2 miles and 110 yards (3,319 metres), and during its running there are eight hurdles to be jumped. The race is scheduled to take place each year on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival in March.
As its title suggests, the Champion Hurdle is the most prestigious hurdling event in the National Hunt calendar. Its list of winners features many of the most highly acclaimed hurdlers in the sport's history, and several of these, such as National Spirit, Hatton's Grace, Persian War and Lanzarote, have had races named in their honour.
The first Champion Hurdle was run in 1927, and its inaugural winner, Blaris, was awarded prize money of £365. In its second year the event was won by Brown Jack, who subsequently became a prolific winner of long-distance flat races. The Champion Hurdle was abandoned in 1931 due to persistent frost, and in 1932 it was contested by just three horses – the smallest field in its history. The race was cancelled twice during World War II, in 1943 and 1944.
The post-war years saw the emergence of the event's first triple winner, Hatton's Grace, who was trained in Ireland by Vincent O'Brien. The achievement of Hatton's Grace was soon to be matched by Sir Ken, who recorded three successive victories in the 1950s. Before the second of these Sir Ken was given a starting price of 2/5 (a £5 bet would have won £2). He is the shortest-priced horse to have won the race. The third horse to win the event three times was Persian War, who completed his hat-trick in 1970. Commercial sponsorship of the Champion Hurdle began in 1978, and it was initially backed by Waterford Crystal.
The 1984 winner, Dawn Run, became the second mare to win the Champion Hurdle. In the same year she also won the Irish and French versions of the event, and two seasons later she won the most prestigious chase in National Hunt racing, the Cheltenham Gold Cup. She remains the only horse to have completed the Champion Hurdle-Gold Cup double. From 1985 to 1987 the Champion Hurdle was dominated by See You Then, who became the event's fourth three-time winner. A new sponsor, Smurfit (now known as the Smurfit Kappa Group), began supporting the race in 1991. The second female horse to win the race was Flakey Dove, the winner in 1994.
The most recent triple winner of the Champion Hurdle was Istabraq, whose successes came in 1998, 1999 and 2000. In the early weeks of 2001 he was the odds-on favourite to win the race again, for an unprecedented fourth time. However, this opportunity was lost as the entire Cheltenham Festival was cancelled that year because of an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease. Istabraq returned for the 2002 running, but on this occasion he failed to complete the race, and he was retired thereafter.
The race is the final leg of the Road to Cheltenham, a series of high-class hurdles races sponsored by StanJames.com consisting of the Fighting Fifth Hurdle, the International Hurdle and the Champion Hurdle Trial.
Most successful horse (3 wins):
- 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
Leading jockey (4 wins):
- Tim Molony – Hatton's Grace (1951), Sir Ken (1952, 1953, 1954)
Leading trainer (5 wins):
- Peter Easterby – Saucy Kit (1967), Night Nurse (1976, 1977), Sea Pigeon (1980, 1981)
- Nicky Henderson – See You Then (1985, 1986, 1987), Punjabi (2009), Binocular (2010)
Leading owner (4 wins):
- Dorothy Paget – Insurance (1932, 1933), Solford (1940), Distel (1946)
- J. P. McManus – Istabraq (1998, 1999, 2000), Binocular (2010)
- Amateur jockeys indicated by "Mr".
Year Winner Age Jockey Trainer Owner 1927 Blaris 6 George Duller Bill Payne Mrs H. Hollins 1928 Brown Jack 4 Bilbie Rees Aubrey Hastings Sir Harold Wernher 1929 Royal Falcon 6 Dick Rees Bob Gore Miss Williams-Bulkeley 1930 Brown Tony 4 Tommy Cullinan Jack Anthony Mrs J. de Sélincourt no race 1931  1932 Insurance 5 Ted Leader Basil Briscoe Dorothy Paget 1933 Insurance 6 Billy Stott Basil Briscoe Dorothy Paget 1934 Chenango 7 Danny Morgan Ivor Anthony Pete Bostwick 1935 Lion Courage 7 Gerry Wilson F. Brown R. Fox Carlyon 1936 Victor Norman 5 Frenchie Nicholson Morgan Blair Michael Stephens 1937 Free Fare 9 Georges Pellerin Ted Gwilt Ben Warner 1938 Our Hope 9 Perry Harding Roderic Gubbins Roderic Gubbins 1939 African Sister 7 Keith Piggott Charles Piggott H. Brueton 1940 Solford 9 Sean Magee Owen Anthony Dorothy Paget 1941 Seneca 4 Ron Smyth Vic Smyth Sir Malcolm McAlpine 1942 Forestation 4 Ron Smyth Vic Smyth Vic Smyth no race 1943–44  1945 Brains Trust 5 Fred Rimell Gerry Wilson F. Blakeway 1946 Distel 5 Bobby O'Ryan Charles Rogers Dorothy Paget 1947 National Spirit 6 Danny Morgan Vic Smyth Len Abelson 1948 National Spirit 7 Ron Smyth Vic Smyth Len Abelson 1949 Hatton's Grace 9 Aubrey Brabazon Vincent O'Brien Mrs Harry Keogh 1950 Hatton's Grace 10 Aubrey Brabazon Vincent O'Brien Mrs Harry Keogh 1951 Hatton's Grace 11 Tim Molony Vincent O'Brien Mrs Harry Keogh 1952 Sir Ken 5 Tim Molony Willie Stephenson Maurice Kingsley 1953 Sir Ken 6 Tim Molony Willie Stephenson Maurice Kingsley 1954 Sir Ken 7 Tim Molony Willie Stephenson Maurice Kingsley 1955 Clair Soleil 6 Fred Winter Ryan Price Gerry Judd 1956 Doorknocker 8 Harry Sprague Charlie Hall Clifford Nicholson 1957 Merry Deal 7 Grenville Underwood Arthur Jones Arthur Jones 1958 Bandalore 7 George Slack Stan Wright Dorothy Wright 1959 Fare Time 6 Fred Winter Ryan Price Gerry Judd 1960 Another Flash 6 Bobby Beasley Paddy Sleator J. J. Byrne 1961 Eborneezer 6 Fred Winter Ryan Price Dr B. N. Pajgar 1962 Anzio 5 Willie Robinson Fulke Walwyn Sir Thomas Ainsworth 1963 Winning Fair 8 Mr Alan Lillingston George Spencer George Spencer 1964 Magic Court 6 Pat McCarron Tommy Robson J. McGhie 1965 Kirriemuir 5 Willie Robinson Fulke Walwyn Dorothy Beddington 1966 Salmon Spray 8 Johnny Haine Bob Turnell Mrs John Rogerson 1967 Saucy Kit 6 Roy Edwards Peter Easterby K. F. Alder 1968 Persian War 5 Jimmy Uttley Colin Davies Henry Alper 1969 Persian War 6 Jimmy Uttley Colin Davies Henry Alper 1970 Persian War 7 Jimmy Uttley Colin Davies Henry Alper 1971 Bula 6 Paul Kelleway Fred Winter Bill Edwards-Heathcote 1972 Bula 7 Paul Kelleway Fred Winter Bill Edwards-Heathcote 1973 Comedy of Errors 6 Bill Smith Fred Rimell Ted Wheatley 1974 Lanzarote 6 Richard Pitman Fred Winter Lord Howard de Walden 1975 Comedy of Errors 8 Ken White Fred Rimell Ted Wheatley 1976 Night Nurse 5 Paddy Broderick Peter Easterby Reg Spencer 1977 Night Nurse 6 Paddy Broderick Peter Easterby Reg Spencer 1978 Monksfield 6 Tommy Kinane Des McDonogh Dr Michael Mangan 1979 Monksfield 7 Dessie Hughes Des McDonogh Dr Michael Mangan 1980 Sea Pigeon 10 Jonjo O'Neill Peter Easterby Pat Muldoon 1981 Sea Pigeon 11 John Francome Peter Easterby Pat Muldoon 1982 For Auction 6 Mr Colin Magnier Michael Cunningham F. Heaslip 1983 Gaye Brief 6 Richard Linley Mercy Rimell Sheikh Ali Abu Khamsin 1984 Dawn Run 6 Jonjo O'Neill Paddy Mullins Charmian Hill 1985 See You Then 5 Steve Smith Eccles Nicky Henderson Stype Wood Stud 1986 See You Then 6 Steve Smith Eccles Nicky Henderson Stype Wood Stud 1987 See You Then 7 Steve Smith Eccles Nicky Henderson Stype Wood Stud 1988 Celtic Shot 6 Peter Scudamore Fred Winter David Horton 1989 Beech Road 7 Richard Guest Toby Balding Tony Geake 1990 Kribensis 6 Richard Dunwoody Michael Stoute Sheikh Mohammed 1991 Morley Street 7 Jimmy Frost Toby Balding Michael Jackson Bloodstock 1992 Royal Gait 9 Graham McCourt James Fanshawe Sheikh Mohammed 1993 Granville Again 7 Peter Scudamore Martin Pipe Eric Scarth 1994 Flakey Dove 8 Mark Dwyer Richard Price John Price 1995 Alderbrook 6 Norman Williamson Kim Bailey Ernie Pick 1996 Collier Bay 6 Graham Bradley Jim Old Wally Sturt 1997 Make A Stand 6 Tony McCoy Martin Pipe Peter Deal 1998 Istabraq 6 Charlie Swan Aidan O'Brien J. P. McManus 1999 Istabraq 7 Charlie Swan Aidan O'Brien J. P. McManus 2000 Istabraq 8 Charlie Swan Aidan O'Brien J. P. McManus no race 2001  2002 Hors La Loi III 7 Dean Gallagher James Fanshawe Paul Green 2003 Rooster Booster 9 Richard Johnson Philip Hobbs Terry Warner 2004 Hardy Eustace 7 Conor O'Dwyer Dessie Hughes Laurence Byrne 2005 Hardy Eustace 8 Conor O'Dwyer Dessie Hughes Laurence Byrne 2006 Brave Inca 8 Tony McCoy Colm Murphy Novices Syndicate 2007 Sublimity 7 Philip Carberry John Carr Bill Hennessy 2008 Katchit 5 Robert Thornton Alan King D S J P Syndicate 2009 Punjabi 6 Barry Geraghty Nicky Henderson Raymond Tooth 2010 Binocular 6 Tony McCoy Nicky Henderson J. P. McManus 2011 Hurricane Fly 7 Ruby Walsh Willie Mullins Creighton / Boyd
- Racing Post:
- cheltenham.co.uk – Media information pack (2010).
- pedigreequery.com – Champion Hurdle – Cheltenham.
- The Breedon Book of Horse Racing Records. Breedon Books. 1993. p. 229. ISBN 1-873626-15-0.
Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday DiscontinuedCathcart Challenge Cup
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