We have a cracking card in store at Cheltenham in mid-December 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, the International Hurdle. 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, named 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: 12th December 2020
- Winner: Song For Someone
- SP: 6/1
- Trainer: Tom Symonds
- Jockey: Aidan Coleman
This Grade 2 hurdle event, which offers an excellent £112,000 in total prize money in 2020, is being run over a distance of 2m1f. The ground at the track is currently described as good to soft and isn’t expected to deteriorate come the day of the race despite some rain due on race day.
|Going||Distance||Grade||Prize Money||Runners||EW Terms|
|Good to Soft||2m1f||Grade 2||£112,000||10 Runners||1/5 1-3|
International 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.
Nicky Henderson is a man noted for his success in the two mile hurdling division, and that record has certainly extended to this race. With six wins in total, including in each of the past four seasons, it is the master of Seven Barrows who boasts the lead in the trainers’ table here. Henderson sends two runners to post in 2020 in the shape of defending champion Call Me Lord and talented mare Verdana Blue.
Champion jockey Richard Johnson leads the way with six wins in this race, but doesn’t have a mount this year. Of the riders who are on show, it is three-time champ Sam Twiston-Davies who boasts the best record. Sam gets the leg up on Ballyandy for his father Nigel Twiston-Davies this year.
This has been a rock-solid contest for supporters of the market leader, with seven of the past 10 favourites or joint favourites having come home in front – enough to hand favourite backers a profit of £5.30 to £1 level stakes.
|Goshen||9/4||156||Gary Moore||Jamie Moore|
|Song For Someone||5/1||156||Tom Symonds||Aidan Coleman|
|Summerville Boy||14/1||156||Tom George||Tom Scudamore|
Goshen – 9/4
Easily the most intriguing runner in this year’s line-up is the current favourite for the race, Goshen. Whilst he is actually only the fourth top rated runner in this line up, with no penalties to carry – unlike the three rated higher than him – he does emerge as the one to beat at these weights. In addition to that, as the only four year old in the field, he is also significantly more open to improvement that the majority of these rivals. On the pick of last season’s form, he may not need to improve too much at all in order to take this.
Always spoken of in the highest regard by his trainer Gary Moore, this one was a slow burner on the flat but did improve to win three on the spin in good style between June and October 2019. It was however over hurdles that he really began to make his presence felt. Three starts in juvenile company yielded three wins to the tune of a combined winning margin of a whopping 68 lengths; this was a run of form which saw him sent off as the 5/2 favourite for the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
What followed was one of the most heart-breaking defeats of the big March meeting as, 10 lengths clear of the field, and seemingly powering up the hill, Goshen clipped the final flight and came down with the race in the bag. That was still a huge performance though, with a couple of those in behind having gone on to frank the form this season. On the downside, Goshen has been beaten in two recent starts on the flat, but it wouldn’t be the greatest surprise if the sole purpose of those outings was to improve his fitness ahead of this.
Song For Someone – 5/1
Another for the shortlist is one of the other relative youngsters in the field, the Tom Symonds-trained five year old, Song For Someone. Making his 13th career start over the smaller obstacles here, he is pretty experienced for one his age but significantly, for a contest such as this, does still appear to be improving. Rated 131 at the start of last season, he arrives here on a mark of 156, leaving him with very little to find on the figures.
This one also scores highly for consistency having finished inside the first three in nine of those previous 12 hurdles outings – including six wins. Boasting career form figures of 31216111 on ground containing the word soft in the description, conditions also seem likely to be ideal. The one slight concern may be the distance, as on the overall balance of his form it would appear that stamina may well be his strong suit – a quality well illustrated when slamming last year’s winner of this, Call Me Lord, over 2m3½f at Ascot last time out. That is really only a minor quibble though as he has already scored in a two mile Grade 2 contest at Kempton and, with a strong pace to aim at, can be expected to be mowing at least a few of these down on the run to the line.
Summerville Boy – 14/1
Of those available at bigger prices, the one to catch our eye as possibly representing a touch of each way value is the Tom George runner, Summerville Boy. Now eight years old, this one looked a potential star in the making during the 2018 campaign; a season which he rounded off with a thrilling come-from-behind success in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. Things didn’t quite go to plan after that, but the horse has still managed to win three of 11 starts since, and clearly has the class to be involved if at his peak.
It has been a strange couple of seasons for the son of Sandmason, with a chase campaign being aborted after just two outings following a heavy fall at Sandown. The horse was then sent down the staying hurdle route – performing with real credit to finish second to Paisley Park in the Grade 2 Cleeve Hurdle at this track, before putting in a reasonable effort to finish fifth in the Stayers’ Hurdle itself.
Soundly beaten by Thyme Hill in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury last time out, it is interesting that connections are now dropping him right back down in trip for this. Having finished in the first three in seven of 11 career outings at the distance, including two Grade 1 wins, and not being over the hill just yet at eight years of age, he is another who can be fancied to be doing all of his best work late on.
International Hurdle Winners
|2020||Song For Someone||6/1||Tom Symonds||Aidan Coleman|
|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|
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 £112,000 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 first achieved by Salmon Spray in just the third edition. Only two other horses have repeated the same season double, Comedy Of Errors in 1974/75 and Rooster Booster in 2002/03.
The International Hurdle still plays an important part in the preparations for the biggest hurdle race of all, with a further four horses having wins in both races on their CV.
Dual International & Champion Hurdle Winners: 1963/64 – 2019/20
|Horse||Trainer(s)||International Hurdle Win(s)||Champion Hurdle Win(s)|
|Rooster Booster||Philip Hobbs||2002||2003|
|Sea Pigeon||Gordon Richards||1975|
|Peter Easterby||1980, 1981|
|Comedy Of Errors||Fred Rimell||1973, 1974||1973, 1975|
|Bula||Fred Winter||1972||1971, 1972|
|Salmon Spray||Bob Turnell||1965||1966|
|Magic Court||Tommy Robson||1964||1964|
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.