Cheltenham – Champion Hurdle: Globe-trotting Grade 1 star could surprise

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RACING anorak Graeme Johnston (@GraemeJ_83) analyses the field for the Day 1 highlight from the 2018 Cheltenham Festival, the Champion Hurdle.

3:30 Cheltenham | Champion Hurdle | ITV1

The Champion Hurdle is the feature of Day 1 and my favourite race of the meeting.

The ground has turned really heavy and is likely to be against a lot of the field and it always raises the prospect of a surprise result. I fully expect the favourite to win but I’m looking for each-way value.

Buveur D’Air is odds-on at 4/7 (BetBright) for this and looks a rock-solid selection. Six from six over hurdles since his novice chase career was abandoned, he will handle the ground, is consistent and has great course form.

I see no reason to oppose Buveur D’Air but he’s too short in the betting to shout about here…

Faugheen (6/1 BetBright) is a former Champion Hurdle winner and National Hunt superstar, but he is up against it here. He was pulled up at Christmas before being outbattled by Supasundae in the Irish Champion.

At his best he wins this, but I think those days were robbed by injury, sadly.

Wicklow Brave (12/1 BetBright) was well beaten in this race last year but with the ground turning heavy, he may be able to turn the tables on a few of these.

This globe-trotting star is a Grade 1 winner over hurdles, and although he is likely to be playing for second place, he is a good each-way price and interesting in any Betting Without Buveur D’Air market.

Best Bets

3:30 Cheltenham | Champion Hurdle – Wicklow Brave (12/1 each-way BetBright)

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I grew up watching Hearts games with my dad and playing football at every opportunity so betting on it was the logical next step! Football coupons became a Saturday ritual and it introduced me into the world of horse racing. I started watching it on a regular basis, and after Galileo's Derby win in 2001 I was hooked. I follow both flat and national hunt racing attending the northern meetings when possible.

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