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Cheltenham Festival Champion Hurdle racing tip (1530): Iberico Lord brought in to chase State Man home

The feature race of the Festival’s opening day is sadly deprived of reigning Champion Hurdler Constitutional Hill, but his withdrawal opens the door for others in what should be a fascinating contest.

15:30 - Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy (2 miles 87 yards)

While the racing world mourns Constitution Hill’s absence, State Man is a more than fitting replacement to step into the void after racing in his rival's shadow over the last couple of seasons, with his only defeat in 11 outings over that period coming in this very race a year ago.

He won the Irish equivalent of the Champion Hurdle by over five lengths last time out in early February and as long as he turns up in good health and enjoys an untroubled round then he surely can’t be opposed here.

Planet Sport Bet: Bet £20+ cash on any runner in the race and if State Man wins by more than 7 lengths, get a £5 Free Bet!

 

State Man’s heavy odds-on price won’t do much for the casual punters among us, so we might be better advised to look elsewhere for a horse to accompany the favourite in a forecast or for some each-way value to make the minor places.

Of course, there are no donkeys in a field of this calibre, with Irish Point fancied to be the main challenger after impressing in his last-time-out back-to-back wins at the end of 2023.

Top Price on the Planet: Irish Point 13/2 (was 11/2)

Of the five runners available at 20/1+, Nemean Lion has gained some traction among Tipstrr's outsider specialists, but our final nod goes to an each-way punt on Iberico Lord.

Connections of Nicky Henderson’s six-year-old have already pre-invested £18,000 of any potential prize money in supplementing him into this race a week ago, and we can assume that his late entry was more than a knee-jerk reaction to the withdrawal of Constitution Hill.

Lightly raced over his first couple of campaigns (two wins in five outings) he was teamed up with Nico De Boinville this term and they hit the ground running to land the 15-runner Greatwood Hurdle with plenty in hand over this course and distance in November.

He was caught out by better ground behind re-opposing stablemate Luccia at Ascot just before Christmas, but looked back to his best when bagging the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury a month ago. 

Suggested bet: Iberico Lord each-way in the 15:30 at Cheltenham

Sitting in nicely throughout, he ran through strongly down the stretch to finish comfortably clear of 20 high-class rivals that included the likes of 2023 County Handicap winner Faivoir, and Go Dante, who went on to advertise that form by winning last weekend’s Imperial Cup at Sandown.

Iberico Lord might not have the beating of State Man here, but anything approaching that level of performance should make him a match for any of his other rivals, and he looks nicely priced at double-digit odds to justify his supplemented entry fee.

 

 

Champion Hurdle key stats

Top 3 trainers (last 20 years)

  • Nicky Henderson - 37 runners, 6 winners, 10 places
  • Willie Mullins - 33 runners, 4 winners, 9 places
  • Henry De Bromhead - 8 runners, 2 winners, 1 place

Top 3 jockeys (last 20 years)

  • Rachael Blackmore - 3 rides, 2 winners
  • Mark Walsh - 6 rides, 1 winner
  • Nico De Boinville - 4 rides, 1 winner

Past 5 winners of the Champion Hurdle

  • 2019 Espoir D'Allen 16/1
  • 2020 Epatante 2/1F
  • 2021 Honeysuckle 11/10F
  • 2022 Honeysuckle 8/11F
  • 2023 Constitution Hill 4/11F

Britain v Ireland

  • Ireland - 12 winners, 18 places from 100 runners
  • Great Britain - 8 winners, 21 places from 136 runners

READ MORE: Cheltenham Festival racing tips: Best bets for Day One on Tuesday March 12

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