The World Hurdle is Cheltenham Festival’s premier staying hurdle race and was until recent years dominated by the legendary Big Bucks. Paul Nicholls’ former stable star won four on the bounce between 2009 and 2012 and holds the record for most wins in the race. His efforts mean Nicholls is also the most successful trainer in World Hurdle history but this year’s renewal is dominated by the chances of Colin Tizzard’s THISTLECRACK.
The eight-year-old has enjoyed an unbeaten campaign so far and enjoyed huge wins in the Cleve Hurdle, JLT Long Walk Hurdle and Long Distance Hurdle and can be had at around even money to follow in the footsteps of the legendary Big Bucks. And having won all three of the aforementioned races by a huge 26 lengths, which included the beating of World Hurdle opponents COLE HARDEN, SAPHIR DU RHEU and AQALIM, punters are counting on him to come up trumps on day three of the festival.
Here’s what the World Hurdle trends have to say about winners of yesteryear.
NO HORSE AGED 10 OR OVER HAS WON THIS RACE IN THE LAST 27 RENEWALS
This race is for out-and-out staying hurdlers who are made of grit and steel, which is why young horses have a torrid record. Crimson Embers was 11 when winning the day three feature race way back in 1986 but no horse aged 10 or over has won it since. Former Gold Cup star BOBS WORTH could feature in this year’s World Hurdle but looks set to have a task on his hand at the grand age of 11.
15 of the last 16 winners finished in the first two in their last outing
THISTLECRACK has conquered all before him so far this campaign and, as already mentioned, is 3/3 this season. Likewise market principal ALPHA DES OBEAUX finished first in his last racecourse appearance. But other World Hurdle challengers might have something to worry about if this trend is anything to go by. COLE HARDEN finished third on his last appearance, SAPHIR DU RHEU finished fifth and WHISPER was pulled up. NICHOLS CANYON could only muster a third-placed finish at Leopardstown on his last run but he is probably destined for the Champion Hurdle anyway.
NINE of the last 16 winners or runners-up prepped in the Cleeve Hurdle
How many of these will run in the World Hurdle is disputable but CAMPING GROUND, THISTLECRACK, GUITAR PETE, KNOCKARA BEAU, PTIT ZIG, THE ROMFORD PELE and THE YOUNG MASTER all ran in this year’s Cleve Hurdle. Out of that bunch you’d only expect Thistlecrack to have any realistic hope of World Hurdle success.
NINE OF THE LAST 10 WORLD HURDLE-WINNING JOCKEYS WAS IRISH
Gavin Sheehan, Barry Geraghty, Ruby Walsh, Denis O’Regan and Paddy Brennan have been winning the World Hurdle for the Irish since 2006 – the year Englishman Robert ‘Choc’ Thornton won aboard My Way De Solzen for Alan King. Englishman Tom Scudamore has partnered THISTLECRACK in all of his races so far this campaign and will have to defy the stats if he’s to claim victory this year.