The Christmas Hurdle (Boxing Day, 2.40) is the middle-leg of the Triple Crown of Hurdling, and it’s run over 2-miles and 8-hurdles at Kempton.
The last 10 winners have been aged 5/6/6/9/6/7/7/5/6/6/7, with Nicky Henderson training 4 of the last 10 winners, and 6 in all since the turn of the century. However, owner JP McManus trumps that with 5 winners in the last decade.
Won last year’s Scottish Champion Hurdle off a mark of 135, but then failed to win off marks of 142 and 144 the next twice. Seemed to be the only runner who handles the heavy ground last time at Haydock, where he finished in front of My Tent Or Yours, but was probably flattered to do so. Plenty to find on the ratings, and will probably fall short.
Gray Wolf River
Rated just 63, and shouldn’t be in the race in my opinion having finished 9th of 10 in a class-5 race last time. However, the connections aren’t breaking any rules, and will pick-up more by coming fifth than he would for winning any race he is probably capable of winning. Let’s just hope he doesn’t get in the way of any of the principles.
My Tent Or Yours
His victory in the 2013 renewal was his last victory over hurdles where he beat The New One, and only the brilliant Annie Power beat him in last year’s Champion Hurdle. Handicapper seems to think he’s in decline but, having only raced on soft and heavy ground so far this year, a return to this flat-track on good ground could see him in a much better light. Also trained by Nicky Henderson, whilst Harchibald won this race twice with an even bigger gap between his wins.
The New One
Triple course and distance winner, but been beaten by both My Tent Or Yours and Faugheen in his two attempts in previous renewals. Often let down by his jumping, it is interesting that connections sent him to a 3-day-eventer to improve it before his win in this season International Hurdle, where he jumped much better, giving My Tent Or Yours 8lb and a beating. Led all the way there, and interesting if allowed to lead again here. Would probably prefer slower ground, but has plenty of form on good.
Did win first three hurdle races over 2-miles, but didn’t beat much in those, and was being talked about as a Staying Hurdler at the start of the season. The only horse to have beaten him over hurdles so far is the seriously impressive Yorkhill, but the suspicion is he might get done for a turn-of-foot in what is usually a test of speed.
2016 Christmas Hurdle Preview
If Yanworth gets beaten, it’s possible that both The New One and My Tent Or Yours (who are closely linked on form) will beat him – and the reverse forecast on those two looks a value-bet
Tip: Reverse Forecast – The New One/My Tent Or Yours