Punchestown Champion Four Year Old Hurdle

The Champion 4-year-old hurdle over two miles takes place on the closing day of the Punchestown Festival in late April/early May.

It is an obvious end-of-season target for horses that ran in the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham. The last horse to win both races was Katarino in 1999 while other notable winners include Punjabi (2007) and Apple’s Jade (2016).

Find out more about the Punchestown Champion Four Year Old Hurdle:

Punchestown Champion Four Year Old Hurdle

Race Overview – Punchestown Champion 4 Year Old Hurdle

The Champion Four Year Old Hurdle is a Grade 1 National Hunt hurdle race held in Ireland for four-year-old horses.

It is held at Punchestown and there are nine hurdles to be jumped over a distance of approximately 2 miles.

The race is for beginner hurdlers and takes place each year in late April or early May during the Punchestown Festival.

The Punchestown Champion Four Year Old Hurdle is the Irish equivalent of the Cheltenham Triumph Hurdle.

Punchestown Champion Four Year Old Hurdle Previous Winners

Year Winner Jockey Trainer
2011 Grandouet Barry Geraghty Nicky Henderson
2012 Hisaabaat Andrew Lynch Dermot Weld
2013 Diakali Ruby Walsh Willie Mullins
2014 Abbyssial Ruby Walsh Willie Mullins
2015 Petite Parisienne Bryan Cooper Willie Mullins
2016 Apple’s Jade Bryan Cooper Willie Mullins
2017 Bapaume Ruby Walsh Willie Mullins
2018 Saldier Robbie Power Willie Mullins
2019 Fusil Raffles Daryl Jacob Nicky Henderson
no race 2020 [c]
2021 Jeff Kidder Sean Flanagan Noel Meade

Famous Punchestown Champion Four-year-old Hurdle Winners

This race was first run in 1980 with victory going to the Paddy Mullins-trained Pearlstone. It was the first of four winners for the trainer in the first twelve seasons of the event. The family has retained strong links with this race as his son Willie is now the dominant force with eight victories.

1989 winner Royal Derbi was trained in Newmarket by Neville Callaghan and ridden by Graham McCourt. He went on to become a top-class hurdler, winning the 1993 Irish Champion Hurdle and finishing second to Granville Again in the Cheltenham Champion Hurdle the same year.

Shawiya (1993) became the first Triumph Hurdle winner to follow up at Punchestown. She was a daughter of Lashkari trained by Michael O’Brien and ridden by Charlie Swan. She was followed into the record books by Nicky Henderson’s Katarino in 1999.

Henderson would strike again eight years later with Punjabi. He won the Champion Hurdle in 2009 and also claimed the Punchestown Champion Hurdle and the Fighting Fifth Hurdle in 2008.

Willie Mullins won the race for six successive seasons from 2013 to 2018. The pick of his winners was Apple’s Jade (2016). She won 15 of her 28 races and over £800,000 in prize money.

Her most notable successes came in the Irish Champion Hurdle (2019) and the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle (2016, 2017, 2018). In all, she won 11 Grade 1 races before being retired to the paddocks in 2020.

2018 winner Saldier won the valuable Galway Hurdle in 2021, defying 11st 10lbs at odds of 18-1.

Key Punchestown Champion Four-year-old Hurdle Trials

There are two key trials for the Punchestown Champion Four-year-old Hurdle; the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham and the Four-year-old Novices Hurdle at Aintree.

Four of the last eleven winners ran in the Triumph Hurdle last time out with two of them having been placed in that event. The Aintree race has produced three subsequent Punchestown winners with one of them having been successful and one placed.

Surprisingly only Fusil Raffles (2019) of the last eleven winners went on to run in the Champion Hurdle the following season.

The only Punchestown Four-year-old Hurdle winner to win at the next Cheltenham Festival during that period was Apple’s Jade. She won the Mares’ Hurdle in 2017.

Punchestown Champion Four-year-old Hurdle Betting Trends

There have been five winning favourites in the last eleven seasons in the Punchestown Champion Four-year-old Hurdle.

Diakali (2013) returned at even money, Petite Parisienne (2015) 11-4 favourite and Apple’s Jade odds-on at 8-13.

The other two winning favourites were Bapaume (2017) at 2-1 and Fusil Raffles (2019) at 13-8.

Shock results are rare, although Jeff Kidder (2021) followed up his 80-1 win in the Fred Winter Hurdle by winning this race at 22-1.

Saldier was by far the longest priced winner of the six successive Mullins-trained winners at 10-1 in 2018.

All eleven recent winners had raced at least three times with one victory that season.

Eight of the eleven winners had at least one victory in a Grade 1 to 3 race.

An official rating of 135 or higher is usually required to win this race with only Saldier (133) falling marginally below that mark.

The highest-rated recent winner was Apple’s Jade (2016) on 153.

Course form is not really a factor here as these are obviously inexperienced horses. Four of the last eleven winners had raced at least once at Punchestown with only one having been successful.

Punchestown Champion Four-year-old Hurdle – Top Trainers and Jockeys

As with so many of the feature races at the Punchestown Festival, Willie Mullins is by far the leading trainer. He won it for a record eighth time when Saldier scored in 2018. His previous winners were Holy Orders (2001), Quatre Heures (2006), Diakali (2013), Abbyssial (2014), Petite Parisienne (2015), Apple’s Jade (2016) and Bapaume (2017).

Nicky Henderson also has a good record in this event with four winners; Katarino (1999), Punjabi (2007), Grandouet (2011) and Fusil Raffles (2019).

When Noel Meade’s Jeff Kidder won in 2021 it was only his second victory after Atherstone back in 1985.

Ruby Walsh rode four of the Mullins-trained winners and was also successful aboard Sporazene for Paul Nicholls in 2003.

Betting on the Punchestown Champion Four-year-old Hurdle

The Punchestown Champion Four-year-old Hurdle has been largely dominated by first and second favourites in recent years.

The field sizes have also been falling with less than ten runners in each of the last five renewals.

Despite Jeff Kidder’s shock victory, this looks like a race to follow the Cheltenham and Aintree form.

Surprisingly few recent winners have proved to be consistent Grade 1 performers so it may be best to treat the form with caution.

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Summary of the Punchestown 4 Year Old Hurdle

One of the major races of the Punchestown Festival the Punchestown 4-Year-Old Hurdle is a highlight of the week.

It always attracts a quality field of proven performers.

We can’t wait to see this years race!

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