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Champion Hurdle

Grade 1 race
Champion Hurdle
Location Cheltenham Racecourse
Cheltenham, England
Inaugurated 1927
Race type Hurdle race
Sponsor Smurfit Kappa
Website Cheltenham
Race information
Distance 2m ½f (3,319 metres)
Track Turf, left-handed
Qualification Four-years-old and up
Weight 11 st 3 lb (4yo);
11 st 10 lb (5yo+)
7 lb for fillies and mares
Purse £370,000 (2010)
1st: £210,937

The Champion Hurdle is a Grade 1 National Hunt hurdle race in Great Britain which is open to horses aged four years or older. It is run on the Old Course at Cheltenham over a distance of about 2 miles and 110 yards (3,319 metres), and during its running there are eight hurdles to be jumped. The race is scheduled to take place each year on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival in March.

As its title suggests, the Champion Hurdle is the most prestigious hurdling event in the National Hunt calendar. Its list of winners features many of the most highly acclaimed hurdlers in the sport's history, and several of these, such as National Spirit, Hatton's Grace, Persian War and Lanzarote, have had races named in their honour.



The first Champion Hurdle was run in 1927, and its inaugural winner, Blaris, was awarded prize money of £365. In its second year the event was won by Brown Jack, who subsequently became a prolific winner of long-distance flat races. The Champion Hurdle was abandoned in 1931 due to persistent frost, and in 1932 it was contested by just three horses – the smallest field in its history. The race was cancelled twice during World War II, in 1943 and 1944.

The post-war years saw the emergence of the event's first triple winner, Hatton's Grace, who was trained in Ireland by Vincent O'Brien. The achievement of Hatton's Grace was soon to be matched by Sir Ken, who recorded three successive victories in the 1950s. Before the second of these Sir Ken was given a starting price of 2/5 (a £5 bet would have won £2). He is the shortest-priced horse to have won the race. The third horse to win the event three times was Persian War, who completed his hat-trick in 1970. Commercial sponsorship of the Champion Hurdle began in 1978, and it was initially backed by Waterford Crystal.

The 1984 winner, Dawn Run, was the first mare to win the Champion Hurdle. In the same year she also won the Irish and French versions of the event, and two seasons later she won the most prestigious chase in National Hunt racing, the Cheltenham Gold Cup. She remains the only horse to have completed the Champion Hurdle-Gold Cup double. From 1985 to 1987 the Champion Hurdle was dominated by See You Then, who became the event's fourth three-time winner. A new sponsor, Smurfit (now known as the Smurfit Kappa Group), began supporting the race in 1991. The second female horse to win the race was Flakey Dove, the winner in 1994.

The most recent triple winner of the Champion Hurdle was Istabraq, whose successes came in 1998, 1999 and 2000. In the early weeks of 2001 he was the odds-on favourite to win the race again, for an unprecedented fourth time. However, this opportunity was lost as the entire Cheltenham Festival was cancelled that year because of an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease. Istabraq returned for the 2002 running, but on this occasion he failed to complete the race, and he was retired thereafter.

The race has served as the final leg of the WBX Hurdling Triple Crown since 2007. This is a bonus scheme which offers a prize of £1,000,000 to any horse which wins the Fighting Fifth Hurdle, the Christmas Hurdle and the Champion Hurdle in the same season.[1]


Most successful horse (3 wins):

  • Hatton's Grace – 1949, 1950, 1951
  • Sir Ken – 1952, 1953, 1954
  • Persian War – 1968, 1969, 1970
  • See You Then – 1985, 1986, 1987

Leading jockey (4 wins):

  • Tim Molony – Hatton's Grace (1951), Sir Ken (1952, 1953, 1954)

Leading trainer (5 wins):

  • Peter EasterbySaucy Kit (1967), Night Nurse (1976, 1977), Sea Pigeon (1980, 1981)
  • Nicky HendersonSee You Then (1985, 1986, 1987), Punjabi (2009), Binocular (2010)

Leading owner (4 wins):

  • Dorothy PagetInsurance (1932, 1933), Solford (1940), Distel (1946)


  • Amateur jockeys indicated by "Mr".







1927 Blaris 6 George Duller Bill Payne Mrs H. Hollins
1928 Brown Jack 4 Bilbie Rees Aubrey Hastings Sir Harold Wernher
1929 Royal Falcon 6 Dick Rees Bob Gore Miss Williams-Bulkeley
1930 Brown Tony 4 Tommy Cullinan Jack Anthony Mrs J. de Sélincourt
1931 no race 1931 [1]
1932 Insurance 5 Ted Leader Basil Briscoe Dorothy Paget
1933 Insurance 6 Billy Stott Basil Briscoe Dorothy Paget
1934 Chenango 7 Danny Morgan Ivor Anthony Pete Bostwick
1935 Lion Courage 7 Gerry Wilson F. Brown R. Fox Carlyon
1936 Victor Norman 5 Frenchie Nicholson Morgan Blair Michael Stephens
1937 Free Fare 9 Georges Pellerin Ted Gwilt Ben Warner
1938 Our Hope 9 Perry Harding Roderic Gubbins Roderic Gubbins
1939 African Sister 7 Keith Piggott Charles Piggott H. Brueton
1940 Solford 9 Sean Magee Owen Anthony Dorothy Paget
1941 Seneca 4 Ron Smyth Vic Smyth Sir Malcolm McAlpine
1942 Forestation 4 Ron Smyth Vic Smyth Vic Smyth
1943 no race 1943–44 [2]
1945 Brains Trust 5 Fred Rimell Gerry Wilson F. Blakeway
1946 Distel 5 Bobby O'Ryan Charles Rogers Dorothy Paget
1947 National Spirit 6 Danny Morgan Vic Smyth Len Abelson
1948 National Spirit 7 Ron Smyth Vic Smyth Len Abelson
1949 Hatton's Grace 9 Aubrey Brabazon Vincent O'Brien Mrs Harry Keogh
1950 Hatton's Grace 10 Aubrey Brabazon Vincent O'Brien Mrs Harry Keogh
1951 Hatton's Grace 11 Tim Molony Vincent O'Brien Mrs Harry Keogh
1952 Sir Ken 5 Tim Molony Willie Stephenson Maurice Kingsley
1953 Sir Ken 6 Tim Molony Willie Stephenson Maurice Kingsley
1954 Sir Ken 7 Tim Molony Willie Stephenson Maurice Kingsley
1955 Clair Soleil 6 Fred Winter Ryan Price Gerry Judd
1956 Doorknocker 8 Harry Sprague Charlie Hall Clifford Nicholson
1957 Merry Deal 7 Grenville Underwood Arthur Jones Arthur Jones
1958 Bandalore 7 George Slack Stan Wright Dorothy Wright
1959 Fare Time 6 Fred Winter Ryan Price Gerry Judd
1960 Another Flash 6 Bobby Beasley Paddy Sleator J. J. Byrne
1961 Eborneezer 6 Fred Winter Ryan Price Dr B. N. Pajgar
1962 Anzio 5 Willie Robinson Fulke Walwyn Sir Thomas Ainsworth
1963 Winning Fair 8 Mr Alan Lillingston George Spencer George Spencer
1964 Magic Court 6 Pat McCarron Tommy Robson J. McGhie
1965 Kirriemuir 5 Willie Robinson Fulke Walwyn Dorothy Beddington
1966 Salmon Spray 8 Johnny Haine Bob Turnell Mrs John Rogerson
1967 Saucy Kit 6 Roy Edwards Peter Easterby K. F. Alder
1968 Persian War 5 Jimmy Uttley Colin Davies Henry Alper
1969 Persian War 6 Jimmy Uttley Colin Davies Henry Alper
1970 Persian War 7 Jimmy Uttley Colin Davies Henry Alper
1971 Bula 6 Paul Kelleway Fred Winter Bill Edwards-Heathcote
1972 Bula 7 Paul Kelleway Fred Winter Bill Edwards-Heathcote
1973 Comedy of Errors 6 Bill Smith Fred Rimell Ted Wheatley
1974 Lanzarote 6 Richard Pitman Fred Winter Lord Howard de Walden
1975 Comedy of Errors 8 Ken White Fred Rimell Ted Wheatley
1976 Night Nurse 5 Paddy Broderick Peter Easterby Reg Spencer
1977 Night Nurse 6 Paddy Broderick Peter Easterby Reg Spencer
1978 Monksfield 6 Tommy Kinane Des McDonogh Dr Michael Mangan
1979 Monksfield 7 Dessie Hughes Des McDonogh Dr Michael Mangan
1980 Sea Pigeon 10 Jonjo O'Neill Peter Easterby Pat Muldoon
1981 Sea Pigeon 11 John Francome Peter Easterby Pat Muldoon
1982 For Auction 6 Mr Colin Magnier Michael Cunningham F. Heaslip
1983 Gaye Brief 6 Richard Linley Mercy Rimell Sheikh Ali Abu Khamsin
1984 Dawn Run 6 Jonjo O'Neill Paddy Mullins Charmian Hill
1985 See You Then 5 Steve Smith Eccles Nicky Henderson Stype Wood Stud
1986 See You Then 6 Steve Smith Eccles Nicky Henderson Stype Wood Stud
1987 See You Then 7 Steve Smith Eccles Nicky Henderson Stype Wood Stud
1988 Celtic Shot 6 Peter Scudamore Fred Winter David Horton
1989 Beech Road 7 Richard Guest Toby Balding Tony Geake
1990 Kribensis 6 Richard Dunwoody Michael Stoute Sheikh Mohammed
1991 Morley Street 7 Jimmy Frost Toby Balding Michael Jackson Bloodstock
1992 Royal Gait 9 Graham McCourt James Fanshawe Sheikh Mohammed
1993 Granville Again 7 Peter Scudamore Martin Pipe Eric Scarth
1994 Flakey Dove 8 Mark Dwyer Richard Price John Price
1995 Alderbrook 6 Norman Williamson Kim Bailey Ernie Pick
1996 Collier Bay 6 Graham Bradley Jim Old Wally Sturt
1997 Make a Stand 6 Tony McCoy Martin Pipe Peter Deal
1998 Istabraq 6 Charlie Swan Aidan O'Brien J. P. McManus
1999 Istabraq 7 Charlie Swan Aidan O'Brien J. P. McManus
2000 Istabraq 8 Charlie Swan Aidan O'Brien J. P. McManus
2001 no race 2001 [3]
2002 Hors La Loi III 7 Dean Gallagher James Fanshawe Paul Green
2003 Rooster Booster 9 Richard Johnson Philip Hobbs Terry Warner
2004 Hardy Eustace 7 Conor O'Dwyer Dessie Hughes Laurence Byrne
2005 Hardy Eustace 8 Conor O'Dwyer Dessie Hughes Laurence Byrne
2006 Brave Inca 8 Tony McCoy Colm Murphy Novices Syndicate
2007 Sublimity 7 Philip Carberry John Carr Bill Hennessy
2008 Katchit 5 Robert Thornton Alan King D S J P Syndicate
2009 Punjabi 6 Barry Geraghty Nicky Henderson Raymond Tooth
2010 Binocular 6 Tony McCoy Nicky Henderson J. P. McManus

1 The race was abandoned in 1931 due to frost.
2 It was not run in 1943 and 1944 because of World War II.
3 The 2001 running was cancelled because of a foot-and-mouth crisis.


  • The Breedon Book of Horse Racing Records. Breedon Books. 1993. p. 229. ISBN 1-873626-15-0. 

See also


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