Which horse is likely to win the Unibet Champion Hurdle, the opening championship contest at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival?

Cheltenham Festival Introduction

Commencing on Tuesday, March 10th, the Cheltenham Festival is quite simply the greatest four days of national hunt racing in the world.

The venue of Prestbury Park, in the heart of the Cotswolds, will attract tens of thousands of racegoers for the biggest betting bonanza of the entire year.

From Tuesday to Friday, each day comprises seven top quality contests, the first major betting event being the Unibet Champion Hurdle on the opening day.

Champion Hurdle

When does the race take place?

The race takes place at 3.30pm on Tuesday, March 10th and will be shown live on ITV

The two mile and half a furlong championship contest is run on the Old Course and is the supreme test for the best hurdlers on either side of the Irish sea. The Grade 1 hurdle race is open to horses aged four years or older.

The inaugural Champion Hurdle dates back to 1927, the first prize of £365 going to the winner Blaris. Five horses have won the race on three occasions, the most recent being Istabraq in 1998-1999-2000. With dual scorer Buveur D’Air (2017-2018) and last year’s winner, Espoir d’Allen, both on the injured list, this season’s renewal will have a new name on the roll of honour.

Leading Contenders

Epatante - Best price 4/1 with Paddy Power
Will attempt to become only the fifth mare to win the race, the most recent being Annie Power in 2016. Impressive winner of both of her starts this season, including the prestigious Christmas Hurdle at Kempton on Boxing Day. Could only finish ninth in a Grade 2 at last year’s festival however, so is probably short enough at current odds.

Honeysuckle - Best price 6/1 with Betfair Sportsbook

Like Epatante, another mare who will also have the advantage of the 7lb sex allowance. Unbeaten in seven races over hurdles and earned her place in the race when winning the Irish Champion Hurdle recently. Entered for another race at the festival, so not a guaranteed runner.

Pentland Hills - Best price 7/1 with Unibet.

Last season’s leading juvenile hurdler with victories in the Triumph Hurdle and at Aintree. Beaten in both starts this season but there were genuine excuses on each occasion. Likely to be a different proposition next month and should not be underestimated. 

With more money gambled at the festival than on any other meeting throughout the year, competition for business among bookmakers will be fierce. Watch out for the many special offers available on the opening day. Click here to choose your Cheltenham Free Bet.

Saldier - Best price 8/1 with Unibet.

Not seen since winning a Grade 1 at Punchestown in November. Could be top Irish trainer Willie Mullins’ main hope.

Klassical Dream - Best price 10/1 with bet365 and Betway.

Last season’s top novice hurdler has not progressed as expected. Too early to write off just yet but needs to show improvement to come home in front.

Not So Sleepy - Best price 25/1 with Betvictor

One of the least exposed entries. Ran away with an Ascot handicap over Christmas and was a classy performer on the Flat. Could be best of those at a big price.


The two mares at the head of the betting are going to be hard to beat but it is too early to write off either Klassical Dream and Pentland Hills, with the latter possibly the better value bet. Not So Sleepy looks best of those at a big price.