Sunday 13 March 2016

Cheltenham Festival 2016 - Day 1: 3:30 Cheltenham (15th March) STAN JAMES CHAMPION HURDLE CHALLENGE TROPHY (Grade 1) (CLASS 1) (4yo+)

A Grade 1 race over 2m 87y on soft ground. Win price money of £248,302. Thirteen runners detailed (Sunday). An exceptional race with an impressive history. A number of brave horses have won this race three times: Hatton's Grace, Sir Ken, Persian War, See You Then & Istabraq

Nicky Henderson and Peter Easterby have achieved the most wins as trainers and the former may fancy his chances to make this race his own. This is true of leading owner J P McManus with five wins. 

Take a look at last year's winner, Faugheen, trained by Willie Mullins and ridden by Ruby Walsh.  

Even with five runners Nicky Henderson may struggle to win this race for a sixth time. The shortest priced of his being My Tent Or Yours, who went close to winning this race in 2014 when second to Jezki, ahead of the New One. However a lay-off over 700 days means this nine-year-old gelding has to re-capture those glory days. 

Henderson said: "He has been a bit behind but we're looking at somewhere like the Christmas Hurdle - he did a fair bit working this morning. "But we just thought if all Ireland was going to come over here then why not the English go to Ireland?"

Peace And Co has been a major disappointment this season and one to watch.

Willie Mullins has every trainer running scared and with three representatives he is the man to beat. 

Annie Power is the only mare in the field but this daughter of Shirroco is the leading light and favourite. Fifteen starts have seen thirteen wins, runner-up and fell once. She has run at Cheltenham three times and course and distance winner. 

The horse to beat.