RACING anorak Graeme Johnston (@GraemeJ_83) analyses the field for the Day 1 highlight from the 2019 Cheltenham Festival, the Champion Hurdle.
Champion Hurdle | Tuesday 12th March 2019, 15:30 | ITV1
The Champion Hurdle is the main event of the day and, in my opinion, the race of the meeting. We have the two-time Champion Hurdle winner taking on two top class mares with previous Festival wins to their names, with a high-class support cast thrown in to make a compelling renewal.
Laurina (7/2 Bet365) is a hugely talented and potentially top-class mare. She was an emphatic winner of the Mares Novice last year and comes in to this off the back of two effortless victories this season.
However, despite the ground coming in her favour she has to prove she can jump hurdles at speed and this is a very different test from what she has faced, and I expect her to get outpaced at some point.
Apples Jade (2/1 Ladbrokes) is very interesting. A previous Festival winner, she was disappointing last Spring when beaten here but she's turning up in the form of her life. She has an uncomplicated running style and a fantastic attitude and won't go down without a fight. Even so, she isn't the slickest of jumpers and I worry she may set this up for her market rival.
Buveur D'Air (11/4 Bet365) is a dual winner of this race and I expect him to land the hat-trick. He is in better form this year than he was when winning his second Champion Hurdle renewal and the likely break neck pace will suit him well.
He is the best jumper in the race and I expect him to have too many gears late on for his rivals.
Champion Hurdle – Buveur D'Air to win (11/4 Bet365)