Unibet are the latest sponsors of the International Hurdle (3.05, Saturday 16 Dec), and this Grade 1 Hurdle is run on Cheltenham’s Old Course over a distance of 2 miles and 179 yards.
The inaugural running of the race was won by Scottish Memories way back in 1963, and it has since been won by some of England’s most popular hurdlers including greats like Sea Pigeon and Bula.
5-year-olds have won 4 of the last 10 renewals
The lowest-rated winner was 152
The highest-rated winner was 168
Nigel Twiston-Davis has trained 4 winners in the last decade, Paul Nicholls 2, and Nicky Henderson 2
Richard Johnson has ridden 2 winners in the last decade
SP’s have ranged from 2/5 to 12/1
The New One
Bidding to become the first horse to win four International Hurdles. Won in 2013 and 2014 before missing his hat-trick bid in 2015. However, having returned to regain his crown in 2016, he has looked every bit as good as ever in two runs this season, and the soft ground is again in his favour.
One of the big talking-horses of last season’s Cheltenham Festival, but could only finish runner-up in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. Rated 8lb below The New One, but open to loads of improvement as a 5-year-old, and looks the one horse in the line-up who could go on to be much better than he currently is.
My Tent Or Yours
Officially the best horse at the weights as he is rated just 1lb inferior to The New One, but receives 6lb here. However, it’s worth remembering that he was receiving 8lb from The New One last year when finishing second to him. Reversed that form in the Champion Hurdle, but soft ground not ideal for a horse that travels well on the bridle but tends to shy away from a fight.
Took advantage of The New One’s absence when winning the 2015 renewal but, though he has notched up two wins this season in lesser company, he hasn’t progressed after his win in this race. Finished 15-lengths behind The New One last year under similar soft-ground conditions, which aren’t ideal for him.
Returns from 301 days off the track and, despite him coming out equal at the weights with The New One in receipt of 6lb, he has yet to win on any of his seasonal debuts.
Beaten by Ch’tibello in the 2016 Scottish Champion Hurdle, and seemed to go the wrong way after that. However, bounced back to life in winning his last two handicap hurdle. Only 6, so could find further improvement, and has won on soft, though his last two wins were on good ground.
Usually races at trips of around 3-miles nowadays and, as he’s also plenty to find at these weights, it will be a surprise if he’s good enough.
The likes of Ch-tibello, John Constable and Old Guard probably need to find improvement, whilst the 5-year-old Melon looks to have more scope than any of that trio. However, they’ll all have some way to go to match the exploits of My Tent Or Yours and The New One. The New One probably doesn’t get the credit he deserves, mainly because he’s yet to run up to his best in the Champion Hurdle, but he’s already proven that soft ground at this time of year on the New Course is his bag.
2017 International Hurdle Tip
The New One @ 5/2 Black Type or 9/4 Marathon, Unibet