The World Hurdle is run over 3-miles and 12 hurdles on the new Course at Cheltenham, and no other Cheltenham Festival race has produced multiple winners like it in recent years. First there was Barracuda in 2002/3, then Inglis Drever in 2005/7/8, and then the brilliant Big Bucks who dominated for 4 year between 2009 and 2012. However the last 3 have all gone to different horses, whilst the last 29 winners have all been aged between 6 and 9.
So here’s a look at the leading protagonists:
Cole Harden 10/1
Last year’s champion needs good ground or faster to be seen at his best, and it will be interesting to see how he fares over the winter months. Last year he drifted out to 40/1 in places before shortening on the day of the race. An obvious chance granted his ideal conditions.
Only 5th last year, but is expected to leave that performance behind as it followed an aborted chase career and his stable had a relatively poor Cheltenham. Went on to win the 3-mile grade-1 at Aintree for the second year running, and is proven at the Cheltenham Festival having won the 2014 Coral Cup off a mark of 153. Jockey Nico de Boinville gets an excellent tune out of him.
Aux Ptits Soins 10/1
Won last year’s Coral Cup off 139 on his first run for Paul Nicholls, and could make any amount of improvement this year, though won that race off a 14lb lower mark than Whisper did.
Annie Power 10/1
Second in 2014 to More of That, but will surely be aimed at the mare’s race, if making the festival at all after being put on the injured list.
Windsor Park 10/1
The form of his festival win over Parlour Games and Nicholls Canyon has been boosted by the subsequent the exploits of the 3rd that day, and his trainer is a master at hitting big-race targets. Can’t rule out but may keep a low-profile before the big day.
Top Notch 14/1
Trainer Nicky Henderson is convinced he’s a stayer in the making, but 5-year-olds have a poor record in this event.
His 13 length defeat of subsequent Coral Hurdle winner Rock On Ruby looks good form, though none of his rivals got the 3-mile trip that day in really soft ground. Soft ground a prerequisite to his chance.
3rd and 4th the last two years, but seems to just fall short on the biggest of stages, and surely won’t improve.
Cole Harden has every chance of a repeat, and we might not have seen the best of Windsor Park yet, however Whisper looks like he could take a lot of beating given an interrupted preparation.
Whisper 2 points win @ 10/1 (Various)
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