Newbury’s Super Saturday (Super Sunday in 2021), 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.
Betfair Hurdle Past Winners
|2021||Soaring Glory||17/2||Jonjo O'Neill||Jonjo O'Neill Jr|
|2020||Pic D'Orhy||33/1||Paul Nicholls||Harry Cobden|
|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||Tony McCoy|
|2008||Wingman||14/1||Gary Moore||Jamie Moore|
|2007||Heathcote||50/1||Gary Moore||Jamie Moore|
|2005||Essex||4/1||Michael O'Brien||Barry Geraghty|
|2004||Geos||16/1||Nicky Henderson||Marcus Foley|
|2003||Spirit Leader||14/1||Jessica Harrington||Norman Williamson|
|2002||Copeland||13/2||Martin Pipe||Tony McCoy|
|2001||Landing Light||4/1||Nicky Henderson||Mick Fitzgerald|
*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
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.
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 Cheltenham: 2010 – 2020
|Year||Betfair Hurdle Winner||Result at Cheltenham Festival|
|2020||Pic D’Orhy (33/1)||Did Not Run|
|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 2010 and 2020 five horses won who were either the favourite or joint favourite. The other six winners went in at 6/1, 12/1, 16/1, 20/1 and 33/1 twice. It’s little surprise that the winning favourites have had a better Cheltenham record than the longer priced horses.
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 £155,000 in 2020, making this very lucrative for a Grade 3 contest.