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: 15th November 2020
- Winner: The Shunter
- SP: 13/2
- Trainer: Emmet Mullins
- Jockey: Robbie Power
The big handicap event on the concluding day of the November meeting sees the runners tackle the 2m½f trip in this Grade 3 hurdle contest. Set to be run on good to soft going this year, the race offers £80,000 in total prize money.
|Going||Distance||Grade||Prize Money||Runners||EW Terms|
|Good to Soft||2m½f||Grade 3||£80,000||18 Runners||1/4 1-4|
Greatwood Hurdle Betting Tips
Note: The following tips are from 2020. Tips for the next renewal will be added once the final declarations have been made.
Martin Pipe and Philip Hobbs are the joint leaders in the trainers’ table for this event with four wins apiece. With Pipe now retired, and Hobbs not holding an entry this year, three time winner Paul Nicholls boasts the best record of the trainers who are on show. Sir Psycho and Thyme White fly the flag for the Nicholls operation this year.
The younger performers have held a definite edge in this race of late, with each of the past 10 renewals having been landed by a runner aged six or younger – a stat which speaks against the seven runners aged seven or older in this year’s field.
Often an open and tricky race to call, the past 10 years have seen seven winners return a double figure SP, and a grand total of zero winning favourites.
|Proschema||11/2||10st 3lbs||Dan Skelton||Harry Skelton|
|Edwardstone||13/2||11st 0lbs||Alan King||Tom Cannon|
|Thyme White||13/2||10st 13lbs||Paul Nicholls||Harry Cobden|
Proschema – 11/2
Formerly based at the Paul Nicholls yard, Dan Skelton seems to have learnt a little about what it takes to win this race having saddled North Hill Harvey to victory in 2016. The Warwickshire-based trainer will likely be optimistic about moving a step closer to his former boss this year, as it is his sole entry Proschema who currently heads the betting in most lists.
A number of Skelton’s biggest career successes to date have come in classy handicap contests such as this, and he may well have unearthed another likely contender in the shape of this 105-rated flat performer. Two from four over hurdles since joining the yard, he was viewed as something of a work in progress last season, but prior to the current campaign was already being mentioned as a likely sort for some of the major races in the Spring. If he is to live up to those ambitions, then he really ought to be up to at least going close here from a mark of 131.
There was certainly plenty of encouragement to be taken from his comeback effort at Warwick last time out when travelling like the best horse in the race only to tire close home. Considering that was his first outing in the best part of a year, it is reasonable to expect him to strip fitter for what will be his major early season target. The fact that Skelton has his string in fine fettle at present – striking on the opening day of this meeting with Protektorat – also augurs well for his chances.
Edwardstone – 13/2
It took a while for Alan King to strike in this race, with the Barbury Castle-based trainer not landing this prize until taking the 2017 edition with Elgin. He didn’t have to wait for quite so long for his second success though having saddled Harambe to victory in the race 12 months ago. Given that recent record, anything King sends to post is well worth a second look in the market, and this year he relies upon the six year old Kayf Tara gelding, Edwardstone.
Having last been sighted in the Grade 1 Supreme Novices Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, this one will be taking a significant drop in class here. He did manage only a well-beaten sixth in that Cheltenham contest, but that still means he beat nine of the most promising novice hurdlers in the game which was a rock solid effort, especially as his yard was under something of a cloud at the time.
His efforts from earlier last season also catch the eye. Edwardstone had both Harry Senior and Fiddlerontheroof in behind when landing back to back contests at Wincanton and Aintree, and with each of those runners having since gone on to score at Grade 2 level and above, there are strong reasons to believe that a handicap mark of 142 may underestimate him. With Tom Cannon in the saddle, he looks set to go well.
Thyme White - 13/2
In common with former protégé Dan Skelton, Paul Nicholls has also been amongst the winners already this week. That’s no real surprise really as the Nicholls operation has been in flying form of late – operating at a 38% strike rate across the past 14 days at the time of writing. All of which suggests that Nicholls two entries, Sir Psycho and Thyme White are well worthy of consideration in this.
Already a three time winner over hurdles – from only seven starts – Sir Psycho certainly isn’t dismissed, but if judged on the market and jockey bookings, it would look to be the four year old, Thyme White who represents Nicholls’ biggest chance of success. As one of the youngest runners in the field, this one is more open to improvement than most – always a big plus in a tight handicap such as this – but does also already boast some impressive form in the book.
A little up and down last season, when reportedly still a little weak, he put in his best effort yet on his seasonal return at Chepstow in October when cruising clear for a three length success. This race was mentioned as the next target in the immediate aftermath of that and getting in off a mark of 141, he looks a major player under Harry Cobden.
Greatwood Hurdle Winners
|2020||The Shunter||13/2||Emmet Mullins||Robbie Power|
|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|
About the Greatwood Hurdle
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|