Which horse holds the course record for the Champion Hurdle?
In the history of the Champion Hurdle, which dates back to 1927, the winning time has been under 3 minutes 50.00 seconds on just five occasions. Istabraq, who completed a hat-trick in the two-mile hurdling championship in 1998, 1999 and 2000, was responsible for two of those times and, indeed, set a new course record, of 3 minutes 48.10 seconds, when winning impressively in 2000.
That record stood until 2014, when it was smashed by Jezki – owned, like Istabraq, by J.P. McManus – who just edged out My Tent Or Yours in a driving finish, eventually coming home in a time of 3 minutes 45.25 seconds. While that time represented a significant improvement on the previous best, the course record was broken again just two years later by the mare Annie Power.
By that stage of her career, Annie Power had been beaten just once in 15 completed starts – and, even then, not by far in the Stayers’ Hurdle two years previously – and had famously fallen at the final flight, with the race at her mercy, in the David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle the previous year. In receipt of a 7lb weight-for-sex allowance, she was sent off 5/2 favourite for the 2016 Champion Hurdle and duly obliged, making most of the running to beat the luckless My Tent Or Yours by 4½ lengths in a new course record time of 3 minutes 45.10 seconds.