Which was the last mare to win the Champion Hurdle?
The Champion Hurdle, run over 2 miles and 87 yards on the Old Course at Cheltenham, was inaugurated in 1927 and is currently the feature race on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival. Fillies and mares receive a 7lb allowance from their male counterparts but, remarkably, in 90 runnings of the two-mile hurdling championship, just five of them have won.
The first of them, African Sister, won way back in 1939, before the start of World War II, but it would be another 45 years before the most famous mare of them all, Dawn Run, completed the first leg of what would become an historic Champion Hurdle – Cheltenham Gold Cup double two years later. Thereafter, it would be another decade before the unheralded Flakey Dove, trained by Leominster husbandman Richard Price, lifted the spoils in 1994 and another twenty-two years before Annie Power – who was anything but unheralded – laid the ghost of her final-flight fall in the David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle the previous year to rest in 2016.
However, the last mare to win the Champion Hurdle was Epatante, who justified favouritism on the 69th birthday of her owner, J.P. McManus, in 2020. Indeed, at the time of writing, Epatante is vying for favouritism with another mare, Honeysuckle, for the 2021 renewal of the Champion Hurdle so, like London buses, two or three may turn at once!