Punchestown Champion Novice Hurdle

The Punchestown Champion Novice Hurdle is a Grade 1 race over two miles on the opening day of the Punchestown Festival. The race is confined to novice hurdlers aged five years or upwards.

Willie Mullins has dominated this event in recent times with a record eight victories in twelve seasons.

Notable past winners include Moscow Flyer (2000), Brave Inca (2004), Hurricane Fly (2009), Jezki (2013) and Faugheen (2014).

The Punchestown Champion Novice Hurdle is the Irish equivalent of the Cheltenham Baring Bingham Novices’ Hurdle. The competition usually includes horses that have previously competed in this race (also known the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle). Mikael d’Haguenet was the last horse to win both races in 2009.

Keep reading to find out more about the Punchestown Champion Novice Hurdle:

Punchestown Champion Novice Hurdle

Punchestown Champion Novices Hurdle – Race Overview

The Alanna Homes Champion Novice Hurdle is a Grade 1 National Hunt hurdle competition held in Ireland for horses aged four and up.

It is run in Punchestown racecourse over a distance of approximately 2 miles and 4 furlongs, with twelve hurdles to be leapt during the race.

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

Punchestown Champion Novice Hurdle Tips

Our Punchestown Champion Novice Hurdle tips are:

  • Our Punchestown Champion Novice Hurdle 2022 NAP Pick is Kilcruit to win
  • Our Punchestown Champion Novice Hurdle 2022 Outsider Selection is Whatdeawant on an EW bet

Punchestown Champion Novice Hurdle Odds

The Punchestown Champion Novice Hurdle odds for 2022 are below:

  • Sir Gerhard – 2-5
  • Kilcruit – 6-1
  • Dysart Dynamo – 8-1
  • Whatdeawant – 10-1
  • Jonbon – 10-1
  • State Man – 16-1

Punchestown Champion Novice Hurdle Previous Winners

Year Winner Age Jockey Trainer
2011 Spirit of Adjisa 7 Richard Johnson Tim Vaughan
2012 Dedigout 6 Davy Russell Tony Martin
2013 Un Atout 5 Davy Russell Willie Mullins
2014 Vautour 5 Ruby Walsh Willie Mullins
2015 Nichols Canyon 5 Ruby Walsh Willie Mullins
2016 Jer’s Girl 4 Barry Geraghty Gavin Cromwell
2017 Bacardys 6 Patrick Mullins[b] Willie Mullins
2018 Dortmund Park 5 Jack Kennedy Gordon Elliott
2019 Reserve Tank 5 Robbie Power Colin Tizzard
no race 2020 [c]
2021 Gaillard Du Mesnil 5 Paul Townend Willie Mullins

Famous Punchestown Champion Novice Hurdle Winners

The Punchestown Champion Novice Hurdle was open to four-year-olds until 1992.  Jim Bolger’s Vestris Abu (1990) was the last winner from this age group.

Dawn Run won the race as a five-year-old in 1983, going on to become the only horse in racing history to land the Champion Hurdle and the Cheltenham Gold Cup. She was also the only horse to complete the English, Irish and French Champion Hurdle treble.

Klairon Davis won in 1994 and won the Arkle Challenge Trophy the following year. He went on to win the Queen Mother Champion Chase in 1996. 2000 winner Moscow Flyer also went on to an illustrious career over fences, culminating in Cheltenham Champion Chase victories for Jessica Harrington in 2003 and 2005.

2004 winner Brave Inca won the Punchestown Champion Hurdle the following year and the Cheltenham Champion Hurdle in 2006. He also won the Irish Champion Hurdle in 2006 and 2009 among his fifteen career victories, amassing almost £1 million in prize money.

There have been three further subsequent Champion Hurdle winners of the Punchestown Champion Novice Hurdle. Hurricane Fly (2009), Jezki (2013) and Faugheen (2014) all went on the Cheltenham glory. Hurricane Fly was one of the greatest Irish hurdlers of all time, winning 24 times from 32 starts over the lower obstacles.

He won the Champion Hurdle in 2011 and 2013, the Punchestown Champion Hurdle four times and the Irish Champion Hurdle five times.

Hurricane Fly’s 2009 victory also signalled the start of a period of total domination for Willie Mullins in the race.

Key Punchestown Champion Novice Hurdle Trials

Four of the last eleven winners ran in the Hardy Eustace Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse, two of the winning and two of them being placed.

Another key trial for the Punchestown Champion Novice Hurdle is the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

Two winners and one placed horse from the Supreme have been successful in this race. Douvan (2015) and Klassical Dream (2019) both followed up their Supreme Hurdle victories in this race for Willie Mullins.

Punchestown Champion Novice Hurdle Betting Trends

There have been four winning favourites in the last eleven seasons; Faugheen (2014), Douvan (2015), Klassical Dream (2019) and Echoes In Rain (2021). All four were trained by Willie Mullins and started odds-on, the shortest-priced being Douvan at a prohibitive 1-6.

Blackstairmountain (2010), Alderwood (2012) and Jezki (2013) were all second favourites while Cilaos Emery (2017) was third-best in the market.

There have also been a couple of shock winners. Draconien (2018) sprang a 25-1 surprise in 2018 and Don’t Touch It (2016) returned at 16-1.

An official rating of 139 or higher is usually required to win the Punchestown Champion Novice Hurdle. Only Shot From The Hip (2011) and Draconien (2018) have fallen below that figure in recent times on 136.

The highest-rated winner in recent seasons was Douvan (2015) on 160.

Eight of the last eleven Punchestown Champion Novice Hurdle had raced at least once at this track, five of them having at least one course victory.

All eleven had won at least once over hurdles and had raced at least three times in the current season.

Five-year-olds have been the most successful age group in recent years, winning five of the last six renewals.

The oldest winners in the history of the event were the eight-year-olds Hotel Minella (1995) and Alderwood (2012).

Punchestown Champion Novice Hurdle – Top Trainers and Jockeys

Willie Mullins has an incredible recent record in this race with eight victories in the last twelve renewals. His winners were Hurricane Fly (2009), Blackstairmountain (2010), Faugheen (2014), Douvan (2015), Cilaos Emery (2017), Draconien (2018), Klassical Dream (2019) and Echoes In Rain (2021).

Ruby Walsh was aboard four of those winners and also partnered Iktitaf (2006) for Noel Meade, making him the most successful jockey in the history of the race.

Jessica Harrington has trained the winner of the Punchestown Champion Novice Hurdle on four occasions; Dance Beat (1996), Moscow Flyer (2000), Jezki (2013) and Don’t Touch It (2016).

Edward O’Grady and Noel Meade also trained four winners apiece, their most recent coming in 2011 and 2008 respectively.

Betting on the Punchestown Champion Novice Hurdle

Betting on the Punchestown Champion Novice Hurdle has predictably been dominated by Trainer Willie Mullins. He usually has several top-class two-mile novice hurdlers in his care.

The betting market does not really take shape until he confirms running plans and he is difficult to oppose on the evidence of recent seasons.

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Summary of the Punchestown Champion Novice Hurdle

The Punchestown Champion Novice Hurdle is normally a high-class clash of emerging talent.

Dominated by Willie Mullins, who always has strength and depth in that department, it is often a race to spot a star of the future in.

It is one of the most eagerly anticipated of the Punchestown Festival and one of your favourites.

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As the Founder of British Racecourses, I have a life-long passion for horse racing and have loved the sport as long as I can remember. I am also a keen racehorse owner and have worked in the gambling industry for several years. I set up British Racecourses with the desire to share my passion for racing with other like-minded people.