The International Hurdle (Cheltenham, Saturday 3.00) was first run in 1963 and, though it was designed to be a trail for the Champion Hurdle, the last winner of this race to go onto success in the Champion Hurdle was Rooster Booster in 2002.
8 of the last 10 winners aged either 4 or 5, though there are no 4-year-olds and only one 5-year-old in the field this year. Meanwhile, despite this being a race in which horses are asked to carry penalties for their successes over the last 12-months, 4 of the last 10 winners have carried the maximum weight of 11-8, whilst 5 have shouldered 11-4.
Trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies (three), Nicky Henderson (two) and Paul Nicholls (two) have all had winners in the last 10-years, and are represented again this year.
6 Runners are set to go to post for the 2016 Stan James International Hurdle.
Notched-up a course and distance hat-trick when winning last year’s renewal, though the form didn’t really work out afterwards. Connections decided to try him over fences on his first two starts this season, and he then flopped back over hurdles at Haydock. He can be forgiven that run due to the heavy ground and, though he only comes out fifth best at the weights, a return to Cheltenham on better ground should see him in a better light. However, he probably needs 2 of his rivals to underperform to win.
The New One
Bids to emulate previous three-time winner Birds Nest who won the race twice in succession before returning two-years later to win for a third time. However, he has no right to beat My Tent Or Yours on last year’s Champion Hurdle form, as he was beaten nearly 5-lengths there off level-weights and must concede that rival 8lb here.
Fallen short in this grade several times, and he was fully 18-lengths behind The New One in the 2014 renewal, on identical terms to the ones he faces here.
Only has 6lb to find on official ratings with My Tent Or Yours, but the fact he was only sixth in last year’s Supreme Novice Hurdle suggests he’s got more to find. He is a course winner, however that was over 20-furlongs, and he may prove better at that distance as the season progresses.
Ran his best race for some time last time at Haydock, where he finished in front of both Old Guard and My Tent Or Yours. However, that was on heavy ground, which those two horse couldn’t handle, and he’d need conditions to be heavy again to surely have any chance. Was a well-beaten fourth in this race last year when the ground was officially soft.
My Tent Or Yours
Hasn’t won a hurdle race since 2013, but has twice finished runner-up in the Champion Hurdle since. Would win this on either of those performances, and has the added advantage of receiving 8lb from both Old Guard and The New One. Good ground is perfect for him, and can be forgiven his run on heavy ground last time, though isn’t likely to be getting any better at the age of 9.
Stan James International Hurdle Tip
My Tent Or Yours has no penalty to carry, and the 8lb he receives from Old Guard and The New One makes him a worthy favourite. However, with rain forecast at Cheltenham, it may be wise to wait until just before the off to judge the ground, as he’s not usually at his best on soft or heavy. If it does come-up soft, The New One is most likely to take advantage.