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Epatante among 36 entries for Unibet Champion Hurdle

Press Release 15th January 2020 Cheltenham

Ante-post favourite Epatante is one of 36 entries for the G1 Unibet Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham on Tuesday, 10 March, details of which are revealed today.

The two-mile hurdling championship is the highlight on Day One of The Festival™ presented by Magners and has a total prize fund of at least £450,000.

Epatante, the 3/1 market leader with Unibet, started her campaign with a smooth success in a limited handicap hurdle at Newbury in November and followed that up with an impressive victory in the G1 Christmas Hurdle at Kempton Park on Boxing Day.

Her trainer Nicky Henderson is the most successful handler in Unibet Champion Hurdle history with seven wins, while her owner J P McManus has won the race a record eight times.

If successful on 10 March, Epatante would become the fifth mare to claim Unibet Champion Hurdle honours, after Annie Power (2016), Flakey Dove (1994), Dawn Run (1984) and African Sister (1939).

Henderson's quintet of entries also features another G1-winning mare in Verdana Blue, Pentland Hills, the winner of last season's G1 JCB Triumph Hurdle at The Festival, and G2 Unibet International Hurdle victor Call Me Lord.

Silver Streak finished third in the 2019 Unibet Champion Hurdle and has continued in fine form this season. After readily landing a Listed hurdle at Kempton Park in October, the seven-year-old finished third behind Cornerstone Lad (Micky Hammond) in the G1 Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle on 30 November and then chased home Epatante at Kempton Park, when the five-length runner-up.

Trainer Evan Williams said: "Silver Streak is in good order and the Unibet Champion Hurdle is the target.

"It is likely that he will go straight there, though the Kingwell at Wincanton [15 February] is a possibility beforehand.

"He ran really well in the Christmas Hurdle and keeps running with credit in these big two-mile hurdles.

"With a bit of luck, hopefully he could be placed in the Champion Hurdle again."

Willie Mullins, who has captured the Unibet Champion Hurdle four times since 2011, accounts for four of the 16 Irish-trained contenders. His team includes the Susannah Ricci-owned pair of Saldier and Sharjah, who have both landed G1 contests in Ireland this season, plus the 2019 G1 Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle victor Klassical Dream.

There are four novices among the entries, with two of them hailing from the stable of Gordon Elliott - G1 Sky Supreme Novices' Hurdle favourite Abacadabras and last year's G1 Weatherbys Champion Bumper hero Envoi Allen. Royal Gait in 1992 is the most recent novice to win the Unibet Champion Hurdle.

Ireland's hand is strengthened further by unbeaten mare Honeysuckle (Henry de Bromhead), who secured the second G1 of her career in the Hatton's Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse on her latest start in December.

Other unexposed entries include progressive handicapper Not So Sleepy (Hughie Morrison), who bolted up in the G3 Betfair Exchange Trophy at Ascot in December, and recent Sandown Park runner-up Eldorado Allen (Colin Tizzard).

Unibet Champion Hurdle - Unibet prices:

3/1 Epatante

7/1 Saldier

8/1 Pentland Hills

9/1 Sharjah

10/1 Honeysuckle, Klassical Dream

12/1 Envoi Allen

16/1 Call Me Lord

25/1 Abacadabras, Coeur Sublime, Fusil Raffles, Not So Sleepy, Silver Streak

33/1 Thomas Darby, Verdana Blue

40/1 Apple's Jade, Ballyandy, Cornerstone Lad, Darasso, Petit Mouchoir

50/1 Eldorado Allen, Samcro

66/1 Felix Desjy, Quick Grabim, Thebannerkingrebel

100/1 Aramon, Darver Star, Elgin, Gumball, Le Patriote, Mengli Khan, Monsieur Lecoq, Pacify, Mohaayed, Nelson River

The Unibet Champion Hurdle

Grade 1, £450,000 Total Prize Fund. Cheltenham, 3.30pm, Tuesday, March 10, two miles and half a furlong (2m 87y). For four-year-olds and upwards who are allotted a rating of 130 or more by the senior BHA Head of Handicapping following a review of the horses entered and taking account of races run up to and including the day prior to confirmation - horses who are not qualified for a rating in GB, IRE or FR may also be entered (such horses may be eligible providing the Handicapper is satisfied that the horse's racecourse performances up to and including the day prior to confirmation would merit a minimum rating of 130 - the decision of the BHA Head of Handicapping shall be final). Weights: 4yo: 11st 2lb; 5yo+: 11st 10lb; fillies & mares allowed 7lb. Entries closed January 14 (36 entries). Scratchings deadline February 11, £22,500 supplementary stage & six-day confirmation stage March 4, final declaration 10.00am, March 8, maximum number of runners 26.

Horse

Age

Owner

Trainer

Abacadabras (FR)

6

Gigginstown House Stud

Gordon Elliott IRE

Apple's Jade (FR)

8

Gigginstown House Stud

Gordon Elliott IRE

Aramon (GER)

7

Aramon Syndicate

Willie Mullins IRE

Ballyandy

9

Options O Syndicate

Nigel Twiston-Davies 

Call Me Lord (FR)

7

Simon Munir & Isaac Souede

Nicky Henderson 

Coeur Sublime (IRE)

5

Chris Jones

Gordon Elliott IRE

Cornerstone Lad

6

Mrs B M Lofthouse

Micky Hammond 

Darasso (FR)

7

J P McManus

Joseph O'Brien IRE

Darver Star (IRE)

8

SSP Number Twenty Two Syndicate

Gavin Cromwell IRE

Eldorado Allen (FR)

6

J P Romans & Terry Warner

Colin Tizzard 

Elgin

8

Elite Racing Club

Alan King 

Envoi Allen (FR)

6

Cheveley Park Stud

Gordon Elliott IRE

Epatante (FR)

6

J P McManus

Nicky Henderson 

Felix Desjy (FR)

7

Gigginstown House Stud

Gordon Elliott IRE

Fusil Raffles (FR)

5

Simon Munir & Isaac Souede

Nicky Henderson 

Gumball (FR)

6

Terry Warner

Philip Hobbs 

Honeysuckle

6

K Alexander

Henry de Bromhead IRE

Klassical Dream (FR)

6

Mrs J Coleman

Willie Mullins IRE

Le Patriote (FR)

8

Canard Vert Racing Club

Dr Richard Newland 

Mengli Khan (IRE)

7

Gigginstown House Stud

Gordon Elliott IRE

Mohaayed

8

June Watts

Dan Skelton 

Monsieur Lecoq (FR)

6

Jane Williams

Jane Williams 

Nelson River

5

CCCP Syndicate

Tony Carroll 

Not So Sleepy

8

Lady Blyth

Hughie Morrison 

Pacify

8

The Duchess Of Cornwall & Chips Keswick

Jamie Snowden 

Pentland Hills (IRE)

5

Owners Group 031

Nicky Henderson 

Petit Mouchoir (FR)

9

Gigginstown House Stud

Henry de Bromhead IRE

Quick Grabim (IRE)

8

Mrs G S Worcester

Fergal O'Brien 

Saldier (FR)

6

Susannah Ricci

Willie Mullins IRE

Samcro (IRE)

8

Gigginstown House Stud

Gordon Elliott IRE

Sharjah (FR)

7

Susannah Ricci

Willie Mullins IRE

Silver Streak (IRE)

7

L Fell

Evan Williams 

Supasundae

10

Ann & Alan Potts Limited

Jessica Harrington IRE

Thebannerkingrebel (IRE)

7

Sir Chips Keswick

Jamie Snowden 

Thomas Darby (IRE)

7

Diana Whateley

Olly Murphy 

Verdana Blue (IRE)

8

Doreen Tabor

Nicky Henderson 

 

36 entries

16 Irish-trained

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