Cheltenham lays on yet another day of high-quality action as we move into the third and final day of the November meeting. Topping the bill on the Sunday card is one of the biggest early season targets for the very best of the handicap hurdlers.
The big guns have fared pretty well in this contest over the years, with the likes of multiple champions Martin Pipe and Paul Nicholls prominent in the trainer’s table for the race. Or, will it be a runner from one of the slightly smaller operations who will prevail in the latest renewal?
Next Race: TBD
The next renewal of this race has not been scheduled yet. We will update this once the schedule has been released for next season. The race info, trends and tips shown below will be updated for the next renewal once the final declarations have been made.
Last Run: 17th November 2019
- Winner: Harambe
- SP: 16/1
- Trainer: Alan King
- Jockey: Tom Bellamy
2m½f is the trip for this Grade 3 Handicap Hurdle contest. Offering £100,000 in guaranteed prize money, this is always a hugely competitive affair and looks set to be run on heavy ground this year after plenty of rain recently.
|Going||Distance||Grade||Prize Money||Runners||EW Terms|
|Heavy||2m½f||Grade 3||£100,000||15 Runners||1/4 1-3|
Greatwood Hurdle Betting Tips
Note: The following tips are from the last running of the race. Tips for the next renewal will be added once the final declarations have been made.
The big hurdle event at the meeting is regularly one of the classiest contests of its type of the season, often attracting runners proven at higher than handicapping level. That isn’t quite the case this year; we certainly don’t have anything of the calibre of former winners such as Menorah, Rooster Booster or Sizing Europe, but if anything that gives the race an even more wide open look than usual. With no winning favourite in the past decade, finding the winner here certainly hasn’t been the most straightforward of tasks.
The name of Martin Pipe was almost synonymous with success at this meeting, and he definitely made his presence felt in this race with four wins between 1990 and 2001. We could have a new name at the top of the trainers’ table this year though, as having drawn level with Pipe in 2014, Philip Hobbs again bids to claim the lead on his own this year. Hobbs looks to have live claims too, with both Gumball and Zanza prominent in the betting market.
With weights carried to victory ranging from a low of 9st7lb to a high of 11st12lb in the past decade alone, winners seem almost equally likely to come from anywhere in the handicap, but we do have a fairly strong trend in evidence when it comes to the age of the winner. With eight of the past 10 editions being landed by a runner aged five or younger, youth has very much been to the fore in this race.
MONSIEUR LECOQ – 4/1
The Jane Williams trained five year old Monsieur Lecoq has been the one to come in for significant support in the build up to this year’s race, to such an extent that he has now worked his way to the head of the market. Boasting form figures of P3U1121 on soft or heavy going, there’s no doubt that the significant rain in the area has played its part in this gamble, as he wouldn’t appear to be thrown in off a mark of 145 on form.
Finishing last season on something of a sour note when finishing a well beaten 10th in the County Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, it’s not too hard to forgive him that considering the ground was riding far quicker than ideal on the day. Always expected to improve this season, he certainly started on the right foot when coming home in front in the Welsh Champion Hurdle on his seasonal return at Ffos Las. Having battled on tenaciously to just hold the useful Le Prezien that day, he arrives at the top of his game and likely won’t go down without a fight.
BENNY’S BRIDGE – 6/1
The famed Cheltenham Hill can take some getting up, even over the minimum distance, and as such previous form at the venue can be worth its weight in gold. One runner who scores top marks in that regard is the Fergal O’Brien-trained, Benny’s Bridge. Two previous starts at Prestbury Park have yielded two successes – the most recent of which came when winning in an absolute canter on his seasonal return at the back end of October. Travelling sweetly in behind that day, he began to scythe through the field a couple of furlongs from home, and it soon became apparent there would be only one outcome as he powered clear for an eight length success.
The handicapper has taken a pretty dim view of that recent win, raising him 10 pounds ahead of this assignment, but such was his margin of superiority that it may not be enough to stop him. Like a few in the line-up, this one does have questions to answer regarding the likely going though. Unraced on heavy ground, he is zero from three on soft, but if he is to cope with ease underfoot anywhere it would most likely be at this track where he goes so well.
QUEL DESTIN – 10/1
Paul Nicholls isn’t the most successful trainer in the history of this race, but he isn’t too far off, needing just one more win to draw level with Messrs Pipe and Hobbs. Nicholls relies on just the one this year, with the admirably tough Quel Destin being the one to carry the hopes of the Ditcheat handler.
Whilst some in the field have questions to answer regarding the underfoot conditions, the heavy ground may well be the only reason this four year old by Muhtathir is even taking his place in the line-up, as he positively thrives in the mud. A perfect two from two on soft or heavy going, getting into a gruelling battle to the line really seems to bring out the best in this horse.
Another factor in favour of the mount of Harry Cobden is his record at the track. Whilst he disappointed here in the Triumph Hurdle last year, he did suffer a very slight injury that race, and he has won his other two starts at Prestbury Park. The most recent of those wins came last time out in a Novice event, when giving weight and a beating to a decent looking field. He was more impressive than the narrow winning margin would suggest that day and a mark of 149 may not be beyond him in these conditions.
Greatwood Hurdle Winners
|2019||Harambe||16/1||Alan King||Tom Bellamy|
|2018||Nietzsche||20/1||Brian Ellison||Danny McMenamin|
|2017||Elgin||10/1||Alan King||Wayne Hutchinson|
|2016||North Hill Harvey||6/1||Dan Skelton||Harry Skelton|
|2015||Old Guard||12/1||Paul Nicholls||Harry Cobden|
|2014||Garde La Victoire||10/1||Philip Hobbs||Richard Johnson|
|2013||Dell’ Arca||12/1||David Pipe||Tom Scudamore|
|2012||Olofi||8/1||Tom George||Paddy Brennan|
|2011||Bramour||12/1||Paul Nicholls||Harry Derham|
|2010||Menorah||6/1||Philip Hobbs||Richard Johnson|
Every November, hurdlers aged four and above flock in decent numbers to Cheltenham’s Old Course to take part in the Greatwood Hurdle. The two mile, half a furlong test often welcomes budding hurdlers who are looking to make a name for themselves in a well-regarded handicap worth a cool £100,000. Over the years, the now Grade 3 contest has been run under various titles but for much of the new century it has included the name of the retired racecourse charity, Greatwood.
WHERE IT ALL BEGAN FOR SIZING EUROPE
The Greatwood Hurdle was not the first race Sizing Europe ever won but it was the first notable victory he ever secured. His fine display in a competitive 2004 renewal saw the then five-year-old placed firmly on the map. Buoyed by what he saw at Cheltenham, Henry De Bromhead sent the bay to the Irish Champion Hurdle two months later where he secured an even more memorable win.
SIZING EUROPE’S BIGGEST RACE VICTORIES
|2007||Greatwood Hurdle||Grade 3||Cheltenham||1st||£57,000|
|2008||Irish Champion Hurdle||Grade 1||Leopardstown||1st||€100,000|
|2009||Novice Chase||Grade 1||Leopardstown||1st||€58,500|
|2010||Arkle Chase||Grade 1||Cheltenham||1st||£85,500|
|2011||Queen Mother Champion Chase||Grade 1||Cheltenham||1st||£182,000|
|2011||Tingle Creek||Grade 1||Sandown||1st||£68,000|
|2012||Boylesports Champion Chase||Grade 1||Punchestown||1st||€87,000|
|2012||Paddy Power Chase||Grade 1||Leopardstown||1st||€65,000|
|2014||Boylesports Champion Chase||Grade 1||Punchestown||1st||€124,000|
To this day Sizing Europe remains the biggest name among the Greatwood Hurdle winners list with 2002 champion Rooster Booster following next in line.
TRUST THE MARKET
Considering that since 2007, this race has featured at least 12 runners with as many as 23, the bookies have not done badly when it comes to calling the race. Big odds can be easily spotted on the racecard but it’s those towards the top of the betting that have long succeeded. In the last 20 years, only six winners set off at a bigger price than 10/1, Paul Nicholls being responsible for three of them. There have been five favourites claiming victory in this time frame with an additional five who were the second or third favourites.
AGE AND RATING FINE INDICATORS
Despite being a regular fixture of this handicap hurdle, horses over the age of six have struggled to see off their younger rivals. Only two winners aged seven or older have won this handicap since 1991, one of them being the Rooster Booster who was rather a late bloomer. Such is the strength of the age trends that discarding horses over six years of age is an easy and sensible way of whittling down the field. Your main focus should go on five years olds as they have performed particularly well over the past couple of decades.
For those of you who like to keep your eye on past trends, you’ll also want to pay close attention to the ratings. Nietszche won with just 9st 7lbs on his back in 2018 but typically horses carry much more than this and boast a significantly higher mark. Ten winners since 2003 have set off with an official rating of 140+ despite being a heavily outnumbered presence in the Greatwood Hurdle. The horse at the very top of the betting has claimed victory four times this century while also placing on seven occasions in the last 14 renewals.
NO JOY FOR HENDERSON
For many years Nicky Henderson has been churning out talented hurdlers but he just can’t seem to get it right in this race. Almost always the British trainer has at least one horse in the mix but never have any of his runners been first to the winning post. He’s often had well fancied options too so it’s definitely fair to say he’s underperformed in this race. It’ll be interesting to see if he can break his Greatwood duck soon or if the curse will continue to scupper him in this handicap.
NICKY HENDERSON’S GREATWOOD HURDLE RUNNERS: 2012-2018
|2019||Dame De Compagnie||Barry Geraghty||5th||6/1|
|2018||Verdana Blue||Jeremiah McGrath||4th||9/2 F|
|2018||Charli Parcs||Barry Geraghty||11th||11/1|
|2016||Brain Power||Paul Maloney||8th||12/1|
|2015||Days Of Heaven||Peter Carberry||16th||14/1|
|2014||Vaniteux||Barry Geraghty||2nd||7/2 F|
|2013||Cash And Go||Barry Geraghty||16th||6/1 JF|
|2012||Cash And Go||Barry Geraghty||2nd||6/1|