Betfair Hurdle Betting Tips, Stats & History

Newbury's Super Saturday, which takes place in February, has a number of quality races but the most interesting for many will be the Betfair Hurdle, a valuable handicap run over 2 miles ½ furlong. The first running of this race actually took place at Aintree in 1963, won by Rosyth who followed up the following year with a repeat victory. The previous winners of this race include two who have gone on to win the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham, Persian War and Make A Stand.

Race Info

1m7½f is the revised trip for this Grade 3 handicap contest. Set to be run on good to soft ground this year, the race now offers £85,000 in guaranteed prize money.

GoingDistanceGradePrize MoneyRunnersEW Terms
Good to Soft 1m7½f 3 £85,000 18 Runners 1/4 1-4

Betfair Hurdle Betting Tips

Ascot, 15:20, Saturday 16th February 2019

Please note that this race was originally scheduled to run at Newbury on the 9th February at a distance of 2m 1/2f. This race will be run over 1m7 1/2f with a reduced prize fund of £85,000.

A cracking card at Ascot lights up the racing action this coming Saturday with the addition of two races, including this Betfair Hurdle, added after the equine flu shutdown. The classiest contests of the day come in the form of the Grade 1 Ascot Chase and two Grade 2 chase events, but from a betting perspective it is this competitive handicap hurdle which takes centre stage.

There will no doubt be plenty of these that come in for support as the race approaches in what is always a highly targeted contest. This has been an excellent event for the youngsters of late though, and we will be betting on that being the case again this year.

There is a very definite trend in evidence here concerning the age of the winner. With each of the past 10 editions having been landed by a runner aged five or six, this is a race which very much favours the younger performers who perhaps haven’t yet reached their peak rating.

Nicky Henderson is the most successful trainer in the history of this valuable contest with a total of five wins in all. As a seven year old though, his sole entry Countister will have that age trend to defy.

We have a really interesting line-up once again, with just about the full range of experience on show; from the five year old handicap debutants to the 8 year old former winner, Ballyandy, and everything in between.

Davies To Dance To Victory?

Nigel Twiston-Davies has tasted his share of success in this race, with two wins in the past five years, and it is he who saddles this year’s favourite in the form of the four-timer-seeking Al Dancer. Prominent in the betting for this year’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, he has improved with every run this season. Seriously underestimated when handed a mark of 129 for his handicap debut at Cheltenham last time out, he promptly bolted up by 11 lengths. Bumped up to 141 ahead of this, he may well have a bit more in the tank yet, particularly if he is to fulfil those lofty Cheltenham Festival goals.

Ballyandy to Repeat Success?

Please note that this horse has switched races to run in the Ascot Supports Berkshire Community Foundation Handicap Hurdle at 1:00 from Ascot

A second Nigel Twiston-Davis runner, Ballyandy, won this race back in 2017 and will be looking to follow up January success at Uttoxeter with a repeat victory here. Before the beginning of the jumps season the gelding had been off the track for 263 days and had a stuttering start when finishing third as a 10/11 jolly at Wetherby. He was unlucky next time out in November's BetVictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham after travelling well before being badly hampered, pulling-up two from home. There was enough promise there to suggest that the 2016 Champion Bumper winner could take this again as an 8 year old.

Nicholls To Trump Rivals?

Another of the younger runners with rock solid credentials is the Paul Nicholls-trained Getaway Trump. The multiple champion trainer has taken just the one edition of this race – with Zarkandar in 2012 – but did go very close with Movewiththetimes in 2017, and rates this six year old as a similar type. Back to back impressive successes in Novice contests saw him pitched straight into the Grade 1 Challow Hurdle, where he found only the impressive Henderson runner Champ too good. A mark of 142 for this handicap debut looks perfectly fair on the back of that and he seems likely to go close.

Final Verdict: Getaway Trump to Win

There is no shortage of serious contenders here, with the likes of Zanza and Ar Mest interesting for those looking for one at a bigger price. Overall though we agree with the market, with Al Dancer and Getaway Trump at the top off our list.

Al Dancer has possibly achieved the most of that duo, but with the novices having a strong record in this race we will take a chance on the rapidly improving Getaway Trump in the hands of Harry Cobden as long as Paul Nicholls picks this contest over the Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton.

Recent Winners

YearWinnerSPTrainerJockey
2019* Al Dancer 5/2 Nigel Twiston-Davies Sam Twiston-Davies
2018 Kalashnikov 8/1 Amy Murphy Jack Quinlan
2017 Ballyandy 3/1 Nigel Twiston-Davies Sam Twiston-Davies
2016 Agrapart 16/1 Nick Williams Lizzie Kelly
2015 Violet Dancer 20/1 Gary Moore Joshua More
2014 Splash Of Ginge 33/1 Nigel Twiston-Davies Ryan Hatch
2013 My Tent Or Yours 5/1 Nicky Henderson A P McCoy
2012 Zarkandar 11/4 Paul Nicholls Ruby Walsh
2011 Recession Proof 12/1 John Quinn Dougie Costello
2010 Get Me Out Of Here 6/1 Jonjo O'Neill A P McCoy

*2019 race was run at Ascot due to Newbury abandonment as a result of an equine flu outbreak.

About the Betfair Hurdle: Super Saturday's Big Handicap

Barry Geraghty and Zaynar at Newbury Racecourse
Lesley Rigg, Bigstockphoto.com

The Grade 3 Betfair Hurdle is one of the most exciting handicaps in the lead up to the Cheltenham Festival. Horses who run well in this tend to go on to have a run at the Festival but with a healthy prize fund, and bags of history and kudos at play, this is a race that very much stands on its own merits.

An Inauspicious Start

Although the Betfair Hurdle is indelibly linked with Newbury, the first edition back in 1963 actually took place at Aintree. The first winner of the race, Rosyth, became embroiled in some real controversy after he successfully defended his title in 1964 when the race moved to Newbury. The racing authorities were suspicious that a horse could win twice and yet be unplaced four times in between. Jockey, Josh Gifford, was suspended and trainer, Ryan Price, warned off.

The pair would, however, combine for two more wins in 1966 and 1967, the latter race won by Hill House who failed a drugs test but was subsequently shown to be able to produce cortisol naturally. It wasn’t until 2013, one year after the race became known as the Betfair Hurdle, that Nicky Henderson became the first trainer to surpass Ryan Price’s four wins as My Tent Or Yours won with Tony McCoy on board.

Chart Showing the Betfair Hurdle's Most Successful Trainers Between 1963 and 2019

Initially, the race was known as the Schweppes Gold Trophy due to that company’s backing. Schweppes maintained sponsorship as the race grew in stature before Tote took over in 1986. That prompted a change of name to the Tote Gold Trophy (latterly the totesport Trophy) until 2011. From 2012 to 2020 (and counting) the race has taken on the present name.

Betfair Hurdle Title Changes: 1963 - 2020

Race Name Sponsor Year From Year To
Betfair Hurdle Betfair Bookmakers 2012 Present
Totesport Trophy Tote Bookmakers 2005 2011
Tote Gold Trophy 1987 2004
Schweppes Gold Trophy Schweppes Beverages 1963 1986

Cheltenham Winners a Rarity

The talk after My Tent Or Yours’ win in 2013 was all about him going on to race in the Champion Hurdle, one of the four feature races at Cheltenham. However, caution prevailed and he stayed in novice company before tackling the Champion the following year. My Tent Or Yours ran into one too good on three separate occasions in the big hurdle at Cheltenham so was unable to join Persian War and Make A Stand as winners of both races.

The Supreme Novices’ Hurdle is actually the most common path for winners of the Betfair Hurdle to take. That’s because this is a contest in which a number of novice hurdlers are tested out against open company. Whatever choice connections make, it is rare for a horse to go from the Betfair Hurdle to victory at Cheltenham, although most winners at Newbury do at least try to claim glory at the Cotswolds extravaganza.

Betfair Hurdle Winners at the Cheltenham: 2010 - 2019

Year Betfair Hurdle Winner Result at Cheltenham Festival
2019 Al Dancer (5/2 Favourite) 10th - Supreme Novices’ Hurdle
2018 Kalashnikov (8/1 Joint Favourite) 2nd - Supreme Novices’ Hurdle
2017 Ballyandy (3/1 Favourite) 4th - Supreme Novices’ Hurdle
2016 Agrapart (16/1) Did Not Run
2015 Violet Dancer (20/1) 10th - County Handicap Hurdle
2014 Splash Of Ginge (33/1) 15th - Supreme Novices’ Hurdle
2013 My Tent Or Yours (5/1 Favourite) 2nd - Supreme Novices’ Hurdle
2012 Zarkandar (11/4 Favourite) 5th - Champion Hurdle
2011 Recession Proof (12/1) 5th - Supreme Novices’ Hurdle
2010 Get Me Out Of Here (6/1) 2nd - Supreme Novices’ Hurdle

A Potentially Lucrative Prize

Winners of the Betfair Hurdle may not win many races at the Cheltenham Festival, at least not following on from their initial success, but as the above table shows, many end up in the places. That is quite impressive for a handicap race which has a knack of providing long odds winners.

It’s very much a mixed bag in terms of odds of Betfair Hurdle winners. Between 2019 and 2010 five horses won who were either the favourite or joint favourite. The other five winners went in at 6/1, 12/1, 16/1, 20/1 and 33/1. It’s little surprise that the winning favourites have a better Cheltenham record than the longer priced horses.

Chart Showing the Start Prices of Betfair Hurdle Winners Between 1998 and 2019

Connections aren’t just enthused by this as a warm up race though. There is also a handsome £100,000 bonus for horses who win both the Betfair Exchange Trophy and the Betfair Hurdle. That’s on top of a prize fund which reached £150,000 in 2020, making this very lucrative for a Grade 3 contest.

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