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Champion Hurdle Entries 2017
Sat, Dec 31st, 2016

Faugheen and Annie Power star among 28 entries for Stan James Champion Hurdle
Wednesday, January 18, 2017 – The two latest winners of the Stan James Champion Hurdle, Faugheen (2015) and Annie Power (2016), headline 28 entries, the highest level since 2013, for the 2017 renewal of the £400,000 Grade One hurdling showpiece at Cheltenham on the first day of The Festival, Champion Day, Tuesday, March 14.

Faugheen led home a one-two-three for Ireland's champion Jump trainer Willie Mullins in 2015, but was unable to defend his crown last year due to a tendon injury. In his absence, Annie Power, who also carries the colours of Susannah Ricci, stepped in to become the first mare since Flakey Dove in 1994 to win the two-mile hurdling championship.

Sponsor Stan James makes Faugheen its 2/1 favourite, with Annie Power next best at 5/1. Both horses are yet to run this season.

Mullins has nine entries in total as he bids for a record-equalling fifth success in the Stan James Champion Hurdle. His formidable hand is strengthened by seven-time G1 victor and last year's third Nichols Canyon (25/1 with Stan James), 2016 OLBG Mares' Hurdle winner Vroum Vroum Mag (16/1), who is also entered in the three championship chases, and 2015 County Hurdle scorer Wicklow Brave (33/1), successful in the G1 Irish St Leger on the Flat in September. Galway Hurdle winner Clondaw Warrior (50/1), Diakali (40/1), Ivan Grozny (40/1) and Footpad (50/1) are also engaged.

The other four Irish-trained entries feature 2014 Stan James Champion Hurdle victor Jezki (Jessica Harrington, 40/1), who has not raced since April, 2015, Petit Mouchoir (Henry De Bromhead, 8/1), who thrashed Nichols Canyon by eight lengths in a G1 contest at Leopardstown over Christmas, and G1 Hatton's Grace Hurdle heroine Apple's Jade (Gordon Elliott, 25/1).

The leading British-trained challenger is Yanworth (Alan King, 5/1) after his three and a quarter-length victory over The New One (Nigel Twiston-Davies, 25/1), third, fifth and fourth in the last three Stan James Champion Hurdles, in the G1 Christmas Hurdle at Kempton Park.

Yanworth has won six of his seven starts over hurdles, with his sole defeat coming at the hands of Yorkhill in last year's Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle at The Festival.

Nicky Henderson has enjoyed five Champion Hurdles wins, more than any other current trainer, and his five 2017 contenders are headed by Brain Power (12/1). The progressive six-year-old has a rating of 162 following a five-length success in a valuable G3 handicap hurdle at Ascot just before Christmas. My Tent Or Yours (50/1), runner-up in both 2014 and 2016, Buveur D'Air (33/1), L'Ami Serge (33/1) and Top Notch (40/1) complete his hand.

An unknown quantity among the entries is Cyrus Darius (50/1), who has a 100 per cent record over obstacles. Trained by Malcolm Jefferson, the eight-year-old is unbeaten in three starts over hurdles including a 10-length demolition of his rivals in the 2015 G2 Top Novices' Hurdle at Aintree's Grand National Festival. Cyrus Darius has not raced since scoring on his chasing debut at Perth in September, 2015.

Jefferson said: "Cyrus Darius is doing great. He is entered in the StanJames.com Champion Hurdle Trial at Haydock at the weekend and, all being well, he will go there.

"We have decided to go back over hurdles for now. He improved a lot over hurdles and ended up being quite impressive at Aintree.

"The owners have said they would like to have a go over hurdles, so we will see how things go on Saturday before deciding what we do for the rest of the season.

"He is a big horse and is as ready as I can get him at home. He has done a lot of steady work, which has gradually built up, and his schooling has been very good. He is in great nick, but it is his first run for a long time and, at this time of year, you are meeting race-fit horses on testing ground.

"I am expecting him to run a real nice race, although if he does need it he won't be knocked about."

Other Stan James Champion Hurdle contenders include last year's County Hurdle winner Superb Story, 16/1), one of three horses entered by Dan Skelton, Stan James Elite Hurdle victor Sceau Royal (Alan King, 33/1) and Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle favourite Moon Racer (David Pipe, 33/1).

Brett Williams, PR spokesperson for StanJames.com, said: "We are delighted with the 28 entries for the Stan James Champion Hurdle, the final leg in our Road To Cheltenham series.

"With the previous three winners, Annie Power, Faugheen and Jezki, among the possible contenders along with last season's exciting novice Yanworth, this year's contest has maintained its status as the premier hurdle race in the horseracing calendar and is shaping up to be real corker.

"It is also great to see Stan James Jump ambassador Nicky Henderson with strong entries including the improving Brain Power and L'Ami Serge, not to mention the admirable My Tent Or Yours,

"Stan James is extremely proud to once again support Jump racing's hurdling crown and look forward to seeing the how the shape of the race develops over the coming weeks."

Stan James Champion Hurdle – Stan James prices: 2/1 Faugheen; 5/1 Annie Power, Yanworth; 8/1 Petit Mouchoir; 12/1 Brain Power; 16/1 Vroum Vroum Mag, Superb Story; 25/1 The New One, Nichols Canyon, Apple's Jade; 33/1 Wicklow Brave, L'Ami Serge, Buveir D'Air, Sceau Royal, Moon Racer; 40/1 Jezki, Top Notch, Diakali, Ivan Grozny; 50/1 Gwafa, Clyne, My Tent Or Yours, Ch'tibello, Cyrus Darius, Ivanovich Gorbatov, Clondaw Warrior; 66/1 Mister Miyagi, Footpad

Stan James Champion Hurdle Facts & Figures
BACKGROUND INFORMATION

The Champion Hurdle was inaugurated in 1927, with a value to the winner of £365. The race is worth £400,000 now, with the winning horse gaining £227,800. The race was abandoned in 1931 due to persistent frost, in 1943 and 1944 because of the Second World War, and in 2001 because of foot and mouth disease.

There have only been three sponsors. Waterford Crystal backed the championship two-mile hurdling contest from 1978 to 1990, while the Smurfit Group sponsored the top hurdle from 1991 to 2010. Stan James took over the sponsorship in 2011 and also support a series of high-profile races on the Road to Cheltenham.

BIGGEST FIELD

The highest number of runners was 24 (1964 and 1991), with the smallest field being three (1932). The first five runnings saw a total of only 24 participants between them. The current safety limit is 26.

MULTIPLE WINNERS

Five horses have won the Stan James Champion Hurdle three times - Hatton's Grace (1949, 1950, 1951), Sir Ken (1952, 1953, 1954), Persian War (1968, 1969, 1970), See You Then (1985, 1986, 1987) and Istabraq (1998, 1999, 2000).

Nine horses have recorded two victories - Insurance (1932 & 1933), National Sprit (1947 & 1948), Bula (1971 & 1972), Comedy Of Errors (1973 & 1975), Night Nurse (1976 & 1977), Monksfield (1978 & 1979), Sea Pigeon (1980 & 1981), Hardy Eustace (2004 & 2005) and Hurricane Fly (2011 & 2013). Comedy Or Errors and Hurricane Fly are the only two horses to have regained the Champion Hurdle crown.

MOST SUCCESSFUL OWNER

The most successful owner in the history of the championship race is J P McManus with five victories, thanks to triple winner Istabraq (1998, 1999 and 2000), Binocular (2010) and Jezki (2014).

MOST SUCCESSFUL TRAINER

Peter Easterby, who retired in 1996, and Nicky Henderson are the race's most successful trainers, with five wins each. Easterby's victories came courtesy of Saucy Kit (1967), Night Nurse (1976 and 1977) and Sea Pigeon (1980 and 1981). Nicky Henderson's five victories so far have been See You Then (1985, 1986 and 1987), Punjabi (2009) and Binocular (2010). Willie Mullins, Ireland's champion Jump trainer, is closing in, having sent out the winners of four of the last six runnings of the Stan James Champion Hurdle, thanks to Hurricane Fly (2011 & 2013), Faugheen (2015) and Annie Power (2016).

MOST SUCCESSFUL JOCKEY

Tim Molony and Ruby Walsh have both won the Champion Hurdle four times. Molony scored on Hatton's Grace (1951) and Sir Ken (1952, 1953 & 1954), while Walsh has been successful aboard Hurricane Fly (2011 & 2013), Faugheen (2015) and Annie Power (2016).

MARES

Four mares have been successful, thanks to Annie Power (2016) joining African Sister (1939), Dawn Run (1984) and Flakey Dove (1994).

BETTING

The biggest shocks in the Stan James Champion Hurdle were provided by Kirriemuir (1965) and Beech Road (1989), who were both returned at 50/1.

At the other end of the scale, the shortest-priced winners were Lion Courage (1935), Sir Ken (1954) and Istabraq (1999), who were all 4/9 chances.

In the 86 runnings, 36 favourites (42 per cent) have prevailed.

GREYS

Four greys have won, the most recent being Rooster Booster in 2003. The others were Kribensis in 1990, Our Hope in 1938 and Victor Norman in 1936. One roan horse has won the Champion Hurdle, Anzio in 1962.

AGE

The oldest winners were Hattons Grace (1951) and Sea Pigeon (1981), both 11-year-olds.

The youngest winners were the four-year-olds Brown Jack (1928), Brown Tony (1930), Seneca (1941) and Forestation (1942).

The overall age breakdown is as follows: 4yo - 4 victories
5yo - 11 victories 6yo - 30 victories 7yo - 21 victories 8yo - 9 victories 9yo - 7 victories 10yo - 2 victories 11yo - 2 victories

RECORD TIME

Annie Power recorded the fastest time for the Stan James Champion Hurdle in 2016, winning in 3m 45.10s to just overcome the previous best of 3m 45.25s set by Jezki in 2014, who in turn beat the 3m 48.1s of Istabraq in 2000.

RIDDEN AND TRAINED WINNER

Four winning jockeys also went on train the Champion Hurdle winner.

RODE TRAINED
Gerry Wilson Lion Courage (1935) Brains Trust (1945)
Fred Rimell Brains Trust (1945) Comedy Of Errors (1973 & 1975)
Fred Winter Clair Solei (1955), Fare Times (1959),
Eborneezer (1961) Bula (1971 & 1972),
Lanzarote (1974), Celtic Shot (1988)
Dessie Hughes Monksfield (1979) Hardy Eustace (2004 & 2005)
OVERSEAS-TRAINED WINNERS

Ireland (22): Distel (1946), Hatton's Grace (1949, 1950, 1951), Another Flash (1960), Winning Fair (1963), Monksfield
(1978, 1979), For Auction (1982), Dawn Run (1984), Istabraq (1998, 1999, 2000), Hardy Eustace (2004, 2005), Brave
Inca (2006), Sublimity (2007), Hurricane Fly (2011, 2013), Jezki (2014), Faugheen (2015

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