Countdown To Cheltenham: World Hurdle Ante-Post Preview
The World Hurdle is run on the Thursday of the Cheltenham Festival over 3-miles and twelve hurdles.
Trainer Paul Nicholls has won it four-times courtesy of Big Bucks who is one of many memorable champions to have won the race more than once. Meanwhile, Jonjo O’Neill has won it twice and Nick Henderson once. Charles Byrnes trained the 2013 winner Solwhit, which was the first Irish trained winner since Doran’s Pride in 1995. Ruby Walsh was aboard Bick Bucks for all his victories, whilst Barry Geraghty has won it twice. AP McCoy has yet to win the race, but is likely to take over aboard More Of That from Barry Geraghty this year.
Here’s our analysis of the main protagonists, and our best ante-post horse racing tip for the race:
More Of That 4/1
Last year’s impressive champion could well live up to his name by adding it to the illustrious roll of multiple winners. Last year, he easily beat Annie Power, the supposed “good thing” of the whole Cheltenham Festival, however he been seen just once this season, a lacklustre run at Newbury which was followed by a wind-operation. Despite all of Jonjo O’Neill’s horses running below par at the time of that Newbury run, More Of That isn’t an ante-post option, but is worthy of consideration on the day of the race if the vibes for him are strong.
Saphir Du Rheu 7/1
This month, he followed the example of his ex-stablemate Big Bucks by aborting his chasing career and returning to hurdling with a victory. That win was over the course and distance of the World Hurdle. He also gave a stone to last year’s Martell Hurdle winner Whisper when winning last season’s Welsh Champion Hurdle. Best form has probably come on heavy.
Rock On Ruby 10/1
The 2012 Champion Hurdle winner is another to revert to hurdling after aborting a failed chasing career, and has notched up two impressive course victories over 2½ miles since. Good ground or faster would aid his chance of seeing out the three-mile trip on his first attempt at it – but stamina isn’t guaranteed.
The 2011 Triumph Hurdle winner has since finished 5th and 4th in two Champion Hurdles and 4th in last year’s World Hurdle. Difficult to see him finding the necessary improvement to win this – and was outstayed over 3-miles at Ascot on his last run.
Lieutenant Colonel 14/1
Yet another to revert to hurdling successfully, winning his last two races. Needs to improve on all known form but could certainly do so at the age of 6. Finished 6th behind Faugheen at last year’s festival – but 3-miles could be the making of him.
Beat That 16/1
He avoided the Cheltenham Festival last year before winning novice events at Aintree and Punchestown. Flopped behind Rocky and Ruby at Cheltenham last time, but likely improver given 3-miles and good ground.
Annie Power 16/1
Last year’s runner-up would be a danger to all if arriving at the festival in the same form as last year. However, after being injured for much of the year, she is much more likely to take in the easier option of the mare’s event.
Cole Harden 40/1
His trainer believes he wants 3-miles and as fast a ground as possible to be seen at his best, and he won impressively the only time he’s had those conditions. May well get them again at the festival and looks the value each-way option at this point. His trainer has been completely out of form for a few weeks, and you can forgive his last two runs.
If you knew More Of That was going to turn-up in the same form as last year 7/2 would look very generous – but it’s impossible to predict if he’s still the same horse. If he isn’t, then the ground could have a significant impact on the outcome.
If the ground is good or faster come March, then Cole Harden must have a great each-way chance. He was as low as 10/1 to win this before his last two runs and both of those can be easily forgiven.
1 point each-way Cole Harden @ 40/1 (Betway) or 33/1 (Ladbrokes or Paddy Power)