The World Hurdle division has received somewhat of a revival this season with the exploits of Thistlecrack through the winter, however Jamie Taylor believes there are one or two in this field than can down the challenge of the chief contender to the throne.
- 10 of the last 11 winners of the race have finished in the first two on all of their hurdle starts that season
- No five-year old has ever won the race.
- Horses that finished unplaced in their final outing before the World Hurdle have a poor record in the race, and is always worth siding with a horse in form in this contest.
- 11 of the last 11 winners had won a Graded hurdle that season before taking the World Hurdle.
- 11 of the last 11 winners of the World Hurdle had been aged between 6 and 9 years old.
Cheltenham 2016 – World Hurdle Contenders
Kayf Tara (13.7f) — Ardstown (Ardross (12.6f))
Notes: Has been lighting up all before him with dazzling displays of brilliance in soft ground. The Colin Tizzard trained Kayf Tara gelding has racked up a sequence of three on the bounce this winter, by a combined margin of 26 lengths against top-level opposition and looks every inch the one to beat in this stayers hurdle showpiece.
Stowaway (15.5f) — Bealaha Essie (IRE) (Denel (FR))
Notes: Was a most impressive winner of the West Yorkshire Hurdle at Wetherby at the start of the campaign, and hasn’t been seen since. It was reported in the press that trainer Charlie Longsdon faces a race against time to prepare him for a tilt at the World Hurdle, but pleased connections with a racecourse gallop at Kempton at the start of the month. Whilst he isn’t a confirmed runner, he looks to be more likely to turn up than not now.
Milan (13.8f) — Johnsalice (IRE) (Zaffaran (USA) (14.0f))
Notes: Hasn’t been seen to best effect since winning the Albert Bartlett at The Festival twelve months ago, and the return to a more sustained gallop will certainly suit him. He needs to improve on what we’ve seen so far but he will appreciate a test and couldn’t be discounted, he looks overpriced at the current prices available.
Alpha Des Obeaux
Saddler Maker (IRE) — Omega Des Obeaux (FR) (Saint Preuil (FR) (12.0f))
Notes: Always runs his race and has never been out the first two except for falling at the last at Aintree last April. Trainer Mouse Morris is convinced he is a much better animal on decent ground, and aired concerns over the ground at Gowran Park prior to winning there with the first time cheek-pieces applied. On all known form he will struggle to reverse with Thistlecrack but he looks sure to run his usual bold and honest race.
Saphir Du Rheu
Al Namix (FR) — Dona Du Rheu (FR) (Dom Pasquini (FR ) (9.3f))
Notes: Is another from the Nicholls bandwagon of ‘breathing ops’ but in truth he wasn’t good enough to win last year and comes into this race in worse form than he did last season. The only reason he is currently where he is in the market is because of the reputation of Paul Nicholls, and his record in this race on the whole.
Westerner (9.9f) — Nosie Betty (IRE) (Alphabatim (USA) (11.7f))
Notes: Winner of this very race 12 months ago with a bold and brilliant front-running display, he has been campaigned sparingly this term by Warren Greatrex and defending his crown has always been the aim this season. Absolutely nothing wrong with his comeback effort at Newbury, and was then left with plenty to work on in the Relkeel on New Year’s Day. The return to better ground and being able to force a true pace will be right up his street and he looks poised to run another superb race.
Annie Power looks almost certain to head for the Champion Hurdle, and if she doesn’t end up there then the Mares Hurdle is more likely than an attempt at this.
Whisper has yet to show the same sparkle over hurdles as he signed off with last season, but a return to better ground will certainly give connections cause for optimism. Were he to return to his spring form we’ve seen, he is dangerous.
Aux Ptit Soins hasn’t been seen since landing the Coral Cup off a mark in the 130s, that kind of performance is a long way short of landing a race of this magnitude, especially with the well documented problems the horse has had. No doubt very highly regarded but is ludicrously under-priced for this.
Prince Of Scars has done well this season on bottomless ground in Ireland, and is thought of as a very nice chasing prospect for the future. He seems quite large on Betfair suggesting he may not even line up for this? Very unlikely to get his preferred conditions either.
Nichols Canyon looks more likely to be routed towards the Champion Hurdle.
At Fishers Cross hasn’t been good enough to win this the last two years running and I’ve seen little to suggest this is his year.
Thistlecrack clearly is the one to beat in this, he has been imperious in his performances so far this campaign and it’d be foolish to think we’ll get anything but another fantastic performance next week. However at 6/5 (PaddyPower), we are now at a point where the value has well and truly been squeezed from his price, and thus we need to look elsewhere.
Kilcooley and Martello Tower at 25s the pair certainly interest and both looks clearly capable of outrunning their odds, as can a well prepped Whisper whose spring form makes him very dangerous and he too cannot be discounted at double-figure prices.
The one which sticks out to me at this point in time is previous winner COLE HARDEN, who has been very much underrated for his all-the-way success at a remorseless gallop twelve months ago. The Warren Greatrex trained runner has followed a similar route to that employed last year taking in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury, followed by the Relkeel Hurdle on New Year’s Day both times not really seen to best effect in the deep winter ground.
Perfectly happy to force things on the front end, the World Hurdle has often proven the most tactical affair out of all the ‘Championship’ races during the week. It is fair to say the staying hurdle crown is the poorer relative of the likes of the Champion Hurdle, Gold Cup and Champion Chase.
I’ve sat watching previous renewals of the World Hurdle this morning back to around 2007 and it’s quite clear to notice that the pace is often very steady, with majority of the field still travelling within themselves as they’re running down the hill. However two interesting races of note where a pace was forced was the 2013 renewal, and Cole Harden’s win in 2015.
In 2013 Bog Warrior forced a fair pace after an initial slow start, and looked like going on to make every post a winning one until breaking down badly coming down the hill for the final time. Fast forward two years later and Cole Harden did exactly the same, forcing things on the front end and drilling the finish out of his rivals with fast accurate jumping, combined with relentless galloping and a will to give his all.
It is my belief that once again this year a fresh Cole Harden has the tools in his armoury to drill the finish out of his rivals using the same tactics employed in 2015, and he has shown nothing to suggest he isn’t capable of repeating that effort especially with the prospect of quicker ground.
0.5pt each-way Martello Tower @ 25-1 with 10Bet (NRNB)
What do you think?
*For the interests of our sponsorship we have advised the price available with 10Bet, however for Cole Harden you are able to obtain 8/1 with PaddyPower & Boylesports, who both also offer the NRNB concession.