Cheltenham Festival - Centenary Day
CHELTENHAM, ENGLAND - MARCH 15: Ruby Walsh and Hurricane Fly jump the last on the first circuit on their way to victory in the Stan James Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy at Cheltenham Racecourse on March 15, 2011 in Cheltenham, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Tony McCoy riding Brave Inca (L) runs up
Cheltenham, UNITED KINGDOM: Tony McCoy riding Brave Inca (L) runs up the hill on the final straight closely followed by Macs Joy (R) to win the main race, The Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle, during the first day of The Cheltenham Festival 14 March 2006. AFP PHOTO ADRIAN DENNIS (ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)
CHELTENHAM, ENGLAND - MARCH 15: Conor O' Dwyer and Hardy Eustace (R) having cleared the last flight in company with the Paul Carberry ridden Harchibald before landing The Smurfit Champion Hurdle Race run at Cheltenham Racecourse during the first day of The Annual National Hunt Festival on March 15, 2005 in Cheltenham, England (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Charlie Swan and Istabraq
14 Mar 2000: Charlie Swan celebrates riding Istabraq to win The Smurfit Champion Hurdle Race during the Cheltenham Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse in England. \ Mandatory Credit: Phil Cole/Getty Images
Graham Bradley on Collier Bay smiles after winning the Smurfit Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy
12-14 Mar 1996: Graham Bradley on Collier Bay smiles after winning the Smurfit Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy during Cheltenham Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse, Cheltenham, England. \ Mandatory Credit: Allsport /Allsport
Jockey Phillip Carberry (R) rides Sublim
Cheltenham, UNITED KINGDOM: Jockey Phillip Carberry (R) rides Sublimity to victory over Jockey Ruby Walsh and his horse Brave Inca (2nd Place) and Jockey Mick Fitzgerald and his horse Afsoun (3rd Place) during the Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy on the first day of the annual Cheltenham Race Festival at Cheltenham Race course, Gloucestershire 13 March 2007. AFP PHOTO/CARL DE SOUZA. (CARL DE SOUZA/AFP/Getty Images)
CHELTENHAM, ENGLAND - MARCH 11: Robert Thornton and Katchit kick clear on the run in to win The Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham Racecourse on March 11, 2008 in Cheltenham, England. (Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images)
Cheltenham Festival - Day One
CHELTENHAM, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 10: Punjabi (Centre) ridden by Barry Geraghty races to the finish to win The Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophyduring day one of the Cheltenham Festival at Cheltenham racecourse on March 10, 2009 in Cheltenham, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
If the 2013 Champion Hurdle market is anything to go by then racing fans are in store for another sensational renewal of the Cheltenham Festival showpiece.
Ever since the Champion Hurdle was first run in 1927 the race has been the most prestigious hurdling event on the National Hunt calendar and the contest’s roll of honour features some of the most highly acclaimed horses in the Festival’s history.
The list of top class winners that have powered to glory in the race stretches longer that the famous course itself and racing fans will be hoping that another superstar emerges from a wide open group of horses being aimed at the Grade One.
The 2012 Champion Hurdle went the way of Paul Nicholls and Rock On Ruby who made the most of a slow gallop to land himself a victory at the highest level, with odds-on favourite Hurricane Fly failing to quicken under the hands of Ruby Walsh.
Rock On Ruby and Hurricane Fly will both be back to battle it out at Cheltenham again in March and they will be hoping to emulate the likes of the legendary Hardy Eustace, Istabraq and See You Then who have all won the race on more than one occasion.
Other horses that live long in the memory of Champion Hurdle viewers will be Colm Murphy’s sensational Brave Inca, Philip Hobbs’ Rooster Booster, Peter Easterby’s Sea Pigeon and the supremely talented Persian War who all entered the Cheltenham Festival winner’s enclosure in some style.
In 2013, thousands of racegoers will pass through the Festival gates to watch the best hurdlers in the business battle it out on the opening day of the meeting and whatever the result, they’re sure to be in for a treat.