We have a cracking card in store at Cheltenham as the International Meeting reaches its crescendo. Topping the bill over the smaller obstacles is this classy affair which lends its name to this two-day meeting. Counting a number of Champion Hurdlers on its roll of honour, this is a race never short on class.
First run in 1963, this was known as the Bula Hurdle between 1977 and 2005 after the two-time Champion Hurdler who won this race in 1972, trained by the legendary Fred Winter.
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: 14th December 2019
- Winner: Call Me Lord
- SP: 2/1
- Trainer: Nicky Henderson
- Jockey: James Bowen
2m1f is the trip for this Grade 2 Hurdle contest which offers a very tidy £140,000 in guaranteed total prize money. The ground at the track is currently described as good to soft and should stay that way.
|Going||Distance||Grade||Prize Money||Runners||EW Terms|
|Good To Soft||2m1f||Grade 2||£140,000||10 Runners||1/4 1-2|
International 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.
Nicky Henderson was only just embarking upon his teenage years when this race was first run back in 1963, but fast-forward to 2019, and no trainer has landed this prize on as many occasions as the Lambourn-based handler. Five times a winner already, Henderson has the talented duo of Call Me Lord and Pentland Hills amongst the current entries this time around and we fancy he has a very real chance of claiming a sixth victory in this prestigious contest.
My Tent Or Yours became the joint oldest winner of the race when coming home in front at the grand old age of 10 in 2017, but overall the younger performers have been on top in recent years, with eight of the past 10 to come home in front being aged seven or younger.
This has been a rock-solid race for backers of the market leaders, with six of the past 11 favourites or joint favourites having obliged. Those to have kept it simple and backed the jolly over this period would have been rewarded with a level stakes profit of a shade over 3 points, a handsome return that backs up our thoughts on the race.
PENTLAND HILLS – 5/4
Clear market leader for this year’s edition is the youngest runner in the field – the Nicky Henderson-trained, Pentland Hills. That he hails from the yard of the most successful trainer in the history of the race is clearly a firm factor in this one’s favour, but it takes more than a trainer trend to start at so short a price for a race as high in class as this one. Pentland Hills does of course also boast some excellent form in the book.
Only a pretty average performer on the flat when with Chris Wall – reaching a peak rating of a lowly 73 – the decision to make the switch to obstacles at a relatively early stage was quickly made to look like a shrewd move.
A perfect three from three over obstacles since joining the Henderson operation in November 2018, he followed up a 14-length romp on debut with back to back successes in Grade 1 company, including over this course and distance when pulling three lengths clear of the field in the Triumph Hurdle at the Festival. Making his first start as a four year old here, he does have to prove he has trained on, but otherwise has plenty in his favour with Nico de Boinville the man doing the steering.
CH’TIBELLO – 5/2
Another to have scored over this track and trip is the Dan Skelton-trained, Ch’Tibello. That is where the similarities between this one and Pentland Hills end though. Whereas the market leader will be making just his fourth start over hurdles, Ch’tibello will be lining up over the smaller obstacles for the 22nd time.
That vast experience is in his favour, as is his liking for the track having claimed the 2018 County Hurdle in gritty style. This is a step up from that Grade 3 handicap affair, but he has twice finished third in Grade 1 company, so may just be up to the task and – far from past it at eight years of age – it is possible that we may not have quite seen the absolute best of him yet.
CALL ME LORD –7/2
Call Me Lord would look to be the Nicky Henderson second string according to the betting market, but he is actually rated fully 7lbs clear of his stablemate Pentland Hills. Not only that, but heading here unpenalised, he also receives 3lb from the market leader. Purely according to the official handicapper, he is the one they have to beat so his odds are sure to interest some.
As a six year old, this son of Slickly wouldn’t be open to the same sort of improvement as his younger rival, but does head here in decent form having finished a solid second to If The Cap Fits in a Grade 2 at Sandown in November. His current wellbeing can be just about assured on the back of that, and whilst all his wins have come going right-handed, that may be down to accident rather than design, as this will be his first time going left-handed.
ELIXIR DE NUTZ – 5/1
Another for the shortlist is the Colin Tizzard representative, Elixir De Nutz. Tizzard is yet to land this prize, but couldn’t have held too many better chances than with this front running son of Al Namix.
Beaten into second on his first start for Tizzard last October, this one quickly developed into one of the most promising novice hurdlers in training. Rattling off a quickfire double at this track - with the second of those wins coming at this meeting - he then improved to record a gritty Grade 1 success in the Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown.
He looked to be heading into the Cheltenham Festival with live claims on the back of that win, only to ultimately miss all of the big spring festivals due to injury. Now seemingly over his ailments, he does have a 343-day absence to contend with, but otherwise boasts form up there with the best of these and can’t be dismissed.
International Hurdle Winners
|2019||Call Me Lord||2/1||Nicky Henderson||James Bowen|
|2018||Brain Power||7/1||Nicky Henderson||Nico de Boinville|
|2017||My Tent Or Yours||5/1||Nicky Henderson||Barry Geraghty|
|2016||The New One||13/8||Nigel Twiston-Davies||Richard Johnson|
|2015||Old Guard||7/1||Paul Nicholls||Sam Twiston-Davies|
|2014||The New One||4/7||Nigel Twiston-Davies||Sam Twiston-Davies|
|2013||The New One||2/5||Nigel Twiston-Davies||Sam Twiston-Davies|
|2012||Zarkandar||6/5||Paul Nicholls||Ruby Walsh|
|2011||Grandouet||5/2||Nicky Henderson||Barry Geraghty|
|2010||Menorah||7/4||Philip Hobbs||Richard Johnson|
|2009||Khyber Kim||12/1||Nigel Twiston-Davies||Paddy Brennan|
About the International Hurdle
Cheltenham Racecourse is hallowed ground for horse racing fans. Each year the course plays host to the Cheltenham Festival, the biggest meeting in the National Hunt season. Cheltenham is home to much more than just one – albeit massive – meeting a year though.
The International Meeting is one of the other important and highly regarded events held at Prestbury Park. Held every year in December, it includes several well regarded races but is headlined by the Grade 2 International Hurdle. Run over a distance of roughly two miles and one furlong (two miles and 179 yards to be precise), the International Hurdle has been won by some very capable hurdlers over the years including the incredibly popular The New One.
The New One
The New One’s place in the history of the International Hurdle is well earned. The Nigel Twiston-Davies trained runner is one of three horses to have won the race three times alongside Birds Nest (1977, 1978 and 1980) and Relkeel (1997, 1998 and 1999). Although the winner of the race now secures a prize of almost £100,000 for connections, the International Hurdle has always been a race used by leading trainers as a stepping stone to bigger and better things.
It was introduced into the National Hunt season back in 1963 and went under the name of the Cheltenham Trial Hurdle. That name shows you that this race was always viewed as a precursor to the bigger hurdle races taking place at the Cheltenham Festival in March. It is increasingly rare for a winner of the International Hurdle to kick on and win the Champion Hurdle, that feat was achieved in the second and third edition whilst it still plays an important part in the preparations for the biggest hurdle race of all.
Same Season International & Champion Hurdle Winners
|1964||Magic Court||Arthur Thomas||Pat McCarron|
|1965||Salmon Spray||Bob Turnell||Johnny Haine|
|1972||Bula||Fred Winter||Paul Kelleway|
|1973||Comedy Of Errors||Fred Rimell||Bill Smith|
|2002||Rooster Booster||Philip Hobbs||Richard Johnson|
The importance of this race in the lead up to the Cheltenham Festival has remained over the years even though it has not had the smoothest history. It has fallen foul of the winter weather on more than one occasion and was switched to Newbury in 2001 and Ascot in 2008. It has also gone under a few different names including the Bula Hurdle starting in 1997 in honour of two time Champion Hurdle winner, Bula.
It is worth noting that many racing fans still refer to the International Hurdle as the Bula. Another thing you will doubtless hear many references to in the build up to the race is the going. The International Hurdle has struggled for top class entrants at times because of concerns about the Cheltenham ground at this time of year so punters should be especially wary about getting involved in the ante post betting.