Epatante Should Be Taken To Bounce Back In Champion Hurdle
Epatante goes into the Champion Hurdle this year looking to become the third back-to-back winner of the premier hurdle contest in the last 20 years.
Only Hardy Eustace (2004 & 2005) and Buveur D’Air (2018 & 2019) have been able to defend their crowns in the Champion Hurdle, but that should not put you off backing Epatante who has the class to win this race many more times before she retires.
Nicky Henderson’s runner went off as the 2/1 favourite in 2020 and she justified those odds. The talented mare was too quick for her rivals in the closing stages, scoring by three lengths. She can be backed at 2/1 again in the Cheltenham betting at Paddy Power for the feature race on day one of the 2021 meeting.
Epatante looked right back to her best when she made her seasonal reappearance at Newcastle in the Grade One Fighting Fifth Hurdle. She cruised into the lead at the North East track after the final hurdle.
Unfortunately for her connections, the seven-year-old was unable to add to her tally on Boxing Day as she had to settle for second place behind Silver Streak in the Christmas Hurdle. Henderson’s runner went off at long odds-on for that race at Kempton but she was no match for the winner on that occasion.
Backers of the horse should not be worried too much by that run over the Christmas period. It was a small field which may just have worked out well for the front-running Silver Streak. The 2020 Champion Hurdle winner can reverse the form with the grey horse when they meet again at Cheltenham.
Unlike some of her challengers, Epatante has proved she is capable of getting up the hill at Cheltenham at the back end of the 2m contest. The course suits her much more than many of the runners in the field who are probably at their best around a flatter track.
Abacadabras The Each-Way Value In The Race
Abacadabras ended the 2019/20 campaign as one of the leading novice hurdlers in the UK and Ireland as she finished second in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle behind Shishkin. Rather than a switch to fences, connections opted to keep their horse over hurdles this season.
Gordon Elliott’s runner’s class was evident when he won the Grade One Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown back in November. He was unable to follow it up in the Matheson Hurdle during the festive programme at Leopardstown as he was below his best on that occasion, finishing fourth of seven at the Irish track.
At 14/1 in the Champion Hurdle betting, Abacadabras represents good value if you are looking for an each-way bet on a horse at double figures. The course will not be a problem for the seven-year-old and he remains open to improvement.
Beyond Epatante, the race has an open feel to it so there is a strong chance Abacadabras will finish in the placings at the very least. If the favourite is not at her best, he could well go one spot better than his finish in 2020.
This year’s Champion Hurdle takes place on the 16th of March and it will be the 91st running of the most prestigious hurdle contest in the sport.
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