The 2018 Champion Hurdle will take place on Tuesday, March 13th at 3:30pm. It is a Grade One National Hunt hurdle, run over two miles and half-a-furlong, for horses aged four years and upwards. 13 runners go to post:
He is the defending champion and from what we have seen of him so far this season he is going to take some beating.
He won the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle on his opening race of this season, despatching a weak field at odds of 1/6 and not even coming off the bridle at any stage. Similar wins in both the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton and a Listed contest at Sandown advertised his dominance once more.
With Faugheen’s frailties well documented, he is the clear favourite to claim his second crown on Tuesday and is rightfully going to be one of the shortest priced favourites of the week.
Dan Skelton’s seven-year-old kicked off this season with a decent fourth place behind My Tent Or Yours, The New One and Melon in the International Hurdle at Cheltenham. He then went down by half a length to The New One at Haydock in their Champion Hurdle Trial. Last time out he found Elgin two-and-a-half lengths too good in the Kingwell Hurdle.
The forecast soft (possibly heavy) ground would certainly play into his strengths at large odds.
The J.P McManus-owned Charli Parcs has thus far failed to hit the heights connections were expecting of him and he really is up against it in this race on all known form lines.
He finished sixth behind Defi Du Seuil in the Triumph last year and his best placing this term was second at Newbury first time up.
Elgin was supplemented into this race at a cost of £20,000 at Wednesday's confirmation stage.
Alan King's six-year-old has enjoyed an excellent season thus far, landing a competitive handicap at Ascot, the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham and the Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton from five starts.
He will certainly give the Elite Racing Club a great day out whatever the result.
Faugheen will be bidding to regain his Champion Hurdle crown and would be one of the most popular winners of the week if he did so.
Injury forced the 2015 hero on to the sidelines for the best part of two years, but he looked as good as ever when making a successful comeback in the Morgiana Hurdle.
He blotted his copybook when he was mysteriously pulled-up at Leopardstown, but then ran respectably when second to Supasundae in the Irish Champion Hurdle.
At ten-years-old however, you have to wonder whether his best racing days are behind him.
Henry de Bromhead's Identity Thief comes here on the back of finishing second to Forge Meadow at Gowran Park in the Red Mills Hurdle.
Identity Thief’s last visit to Cheltenham was in 2016 when he could only manage sixth place in this race behind Annie Power.
The eight-year-old looks much better suited to chasing these days.
John Constable won twice over hurdles during the summer, including a runaway victory in the Swinton Handicap Hurdle at Haydock Park in May, and has run creditably in his two starts this winter.
He finished a close sixth in the International Hurdle at Cheltenham in December before coming home second, beaten a length and three quarters, behind Buveur D’Air in the Listed Contenders Hurdle at Sandown Park in February.
Melon started off this season with a fluent win at Down Royal. He was far too keen for his own good when beaten in the International Hurdle at Cheltenham, leaving very little in the tank for the finish and was disappointing again in the Irish Champion Hurdle.
Melon ran well in the Supreme last season and has been competing in the top level contests but he has not quite lived up to the hype. This would be the perfect stage to silence his critics.
Mick Jazz took advantage of Faugheen's Christmas flop but was firmly put in his place in the Irish Champion Hurdle when Supersundae and Faugheen powered clear of the chasing pack.
Gordon Elliott’s seven-year-old has always acquitted himself well in this grade but will probably need some of his rivals to underperform to have any realistic chance of winning.
My Tent Or Yours
Nicky Henderson’s veteran hurdler is no stranger to Cheltenham and this race having been run out of it three times up the famous hill.
He finally got his just reward for consistency when beating a decent field here in the International Hurdle in December.
Younger legs will probably find him out again this year but who would bet against him being in the shake up for the places?
The nine-year-old is officially the third highest-rated horse in the race, behind odds-on favourite Buveur D’Air and 2016 winner Faugheen and many pundits are touting him as a potential dark horse in this.
A Grade One winner on both the flat and over hurdles, he took the Punchestown Champion Hurdle in April as well as being a previous winner of the Country Hurdle at the Festival.
He ran well in this race last year after planting himself for a few seconds so supporters will be hoping he jumps off on terms on Tuesday.
The Willie Mullins-trained eight-year-old is talented, but has not found things going to plan over fences this season, having won the JLT Novices' Chase at Cheltenham twelve months ago.
A previous winner of the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle in 2016, the switch back to the smaller obstacles may spark his season back into life but makes him a risky betting proposition in this race.
Verdana Blue is the only mare in the race and she will need to run a career best to trouble the judge in this feature.
She was well beaten in the Betfair Hurdle last time out and has shown no kind of form that would put her up there as a serious contender in this.
My selection: Buveur D’Air (nap) Wicklow Brave (nb).
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*