The Aintree Hurdle (Thurs 4 April @ 15:25) is one of the highlights of the opening day of Aintree’s Grand National meeting. It was established in 1976 and is run over two miles and four furlongs. It has been won by some of the best hurdlers of all time and its roll of honour includes great horses like Comedy Of Errors, Monksfield, Night Nurse, Dawn Run, Morley Street, Annie Power, and Buveur D’Air.
Aintree Hurdle 10-Year-Trends
The last nine winners of the Aintree Hurdle have been aged either six, seven, or eight. The 2009 winner Solwhit was only five, but no horses of that age group are running this year. Solwhit is also the only horse to have had more than five runs in the same season prior to his success, with eight winners running four times or less before Aintree. The last nine winners have also all been rated at least 155, with seven of them rated 162 or higher.
Nine of the last 10 winners had run at the Cheltenham Festival on the preceding run. Last year’s winner L’Ami Serge ran in the Stayers’ Hurdle, as did Oscar Whiskey before the first of his two successes.
The New One managed to win this in his novice season, whilst Buveur D’Air, and Annie Power won the Champion Hurdle before triumphing here. Khyber Kim, Zarkandar, and Jezki also ran in the Champion Hurdle, finishing second, fourth, and fourth, whilst Oscar Whiskey was unplaced in the Champion Hurdle prior to his second success.
Experience of Aintree hasn’t been a prerequisite to success, with none of the three Irish winners ever having run at Aintree before. All but one of the English runners had, but only Buveur D’Air, Zarkandar, and Oscar Whiskey (on the second occasion) had won there before.
The lowest SP of the last 10 winners has been 4/9, with no winner returned bigger than 6/1. Nicky Henderson has an outstanding record in the race having trained four of the last eight winners.
Aintree Hurdle 2019 Summary
Faugheen and Supsasundae have both been fantastic servants for their connections but, whilst both could yet have a big run in them, they are both older than any of the last 10 winners. In fact, only three winners older than eight have won in 43 editions of the race.
Meanwhile, Silver Streak, Ch’tibello, and Verdana Blue have all run five times or more already this season and may find that some of their rivals are fresher.
Brain Power is another that looks up against it as he’s rated just 153, whilst he’s also finished unplaced in his two previous runs at Aintree. Summerville Boy is also rated 153 and, though he is less-exposed, the form of his win in last year’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle hasn’t worked out as well as expected. He could improve for the step-up in trip but it’s worth remembering that he finished 22-lengths behind Buveur D’Air in this season’s Fighting Fifth Hurdle.
Melon is another horse that’s hard to weigh-up, as his only two decent runs in the last two years have been when twice finishing second in the Champion Hurdle. However, this year’s Champion Hurdle fell apart and the Buveur D’Air was reported to be ill after beating him by a neck in 2017.
That means by far the most likely winner is Buveur D’Air, providing his fall in the Champion Hurdle hasn’t ruined his confidence. It could be worth taking a chance that it hasn’t as he’s rated eight pounds and upwards superior to his rivals.
The other reason why he looks worth a bet is that, despite him winning loads of races at two-miles, he’s always looked a horse that would be better over further. That backed up by the fact he was eased down near the line when sauntering to victory in the 2017 renewal by five lengths from My Tent Or Yours. His course record is good too, as he also beat an in-form Petit Mouchoir in a novice hurdle here in 2016. Another plus point is he’s happy on good, good-to-soft, or softer ground, so the weather won’t scupper his chances. His trainer Nicky Henderson also knows how to prepare a horse for this race, winning it four times with three different horses in the last eight years.