The World Hurdle is the traditional highlight of the third day of the Cheltenham, and the winner needs to navigate 3-miles and 12 hurdles.
In the last decade, winners have been aged between 6 and 9, though they have come through a variety of routes, with some second season novices stepping-up to the grade, whilst four-times winner Big Bucks had reverted to hurdling from chasing, and Solwhit was stepping-up in trip after a couple of seasons competing against the best over shorter distances.
So, let’s take a look at some of the principals.
The 2015 Champion Hurdle winner did win the 2-mile 5-furlong Neptune Hurdle as a novice, and would probably stay the trip if asked to. However, that looks unlikely with so many decent 2-mile races at his mercy, and he looks more likely to run in the Champion Hurdle.
If he was to revert to hurdles having started his chasing career, then 8/1 would be insulting. However, he looked a natural chaser on his debut over fences – and connections are aiming for the Gold Cup.
Nicholls Canyon 10/1
Could do a Solwhit by stepping-up in trip having tried his luck against the best 2-milers last year, and his flat form over 14 and 16 furlongs would suggest that he could get the trip. Perhaps not at his best so far at Cheltenham though, which tempers enthusiasm at this stage.
Vroum Vroum Mag 10/1
Unbeaten in 10 runs for Willie Mullins, but she’s the fly in the ointment in all ante-post races. That’s because connections haven’t specified an aim for her, and have said she’s the super-sub waiting to step-in if some of the stable’s other stars fall by the wayside. She could go off as short as even-money though if she turns-up here though.
Looked a world-beater when beating Shantou Village and Champers On Ice at Cheltenham in January, and her stable was out-of-form when she was beaten 1¾ length by Yorkill at the festival. Looks sure to be suited by 3-miles, and this looks an obvious target.
Runner-up at the last 3 Cheltenham Festivals, Willie Mullins has said that this one will revert to hurdles this year after finishing runner-up in the RSA Chase, with this looking to be his major seasonal target.
Proved that he stays 3-miles when winning the Punchestown World Hurdle in 2015, but not seen since. Price will contract if he reappears and wins, but that comes with obvious risks.
Last year’s Albert Bartlett winner has already proved he loves a battle over course and distance, and wouldn’t need to improve too much more to make up into a worthy challenger. Goes on any ground, but soft ground would make his abundant stamina a useful weapon.
2017 World Hurdle Ante-Post Tip
It already looks a race where many of the current market leaders may not turn-up, which makes Shaneshill look a solid ante-post investment. An 8-year-old whose stamina is already proven, he likes Cheltenham, and goes on most types of ground. However, most importantly, this looks to be his major target for the season, and his owner Graham Wylie has enjoyed lots of success in the past in this race with three-time winner Inglis Drever.
Shaneshill 1 Point Win @ 16/1 (Coral)
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