Cheltenham 2010: World Hurdle Preview

The World Hurdle, dear reader, is the leading staying hurdle race in Europe, and is run on the Thursday of the Cheltenham Festival over a trip of three miles and two furlongs.

Formerly known as the Stayers' Hurdle, for obvious reasons, the race has a very high class role of honour, with Big Buck's prevailing last year. I've taken my customary ante-post trends look of the race, with a view to finding some value in the betting.

So, let's take a look at the trends...

Year Winner Best to End Dec Best Prev Year
2009 Big Buck's 1st Cl2 Hcap Hdle 1st G2 Nov Chs
2008 Inglis Drever 1st G2 Long Distance H 1st World Hurdle
2007 Inglis Drever 1st G2 Long Distance H 1st G2 Long Distance H
2006 My Way De Solzen 1st G1 Long Walk H 2nd Aintree G2 H
2005 Inglis Drever 2nd G1 Fighting Fifth H 1st 2xG2 Nov H
2004 Iris's Gift No run in season 2nd World Hurdle
2003 Baracouda 2nd G1 Long Walk H 1st World Hurdle
2002 Baracouda 1st G1 Long Walk H 1st Sandown G1 H
2001 No race No race No race
2000 Bacchanal 1st G2 Gerry Feilden H 1st Cl2 Nov H
Year Winner OR Age SP Trained?
2009 Big Buck's 170 6 6.00 UK
2008 Inglis Drever 172 9 1.38 UK
2007 Inglis Drever 163 8 5.00 UK
2006 My Way De Solzen 157 6 8.00 UK
2005 Inglis Drever 157 6 5.00 UK
2004 Iris's Gift 168 7 4.50 UK
2003 Baracouda - 8 2.25 France
2002 Baracouda - 7 1.63 France
2001 No race
2000 Bacchanal 163 6 5.50 UK
164 7 4.3611

Here's what we can note from those past nine runnings. Firstly, the age range is 6-9 years old, with the average being 7. However, factor into this the fact that only the exceptional pair of Baracouda and Inglis Drever have triumphed aged 8+, and you're probably looking for a 6yo or an exceptional horse.

Baracouda didn't have a British handicap rating, but the other seven winners ranged from 157 to 172, with the average smack bang in the middle at 164. I'd be reluctant to consider anything rated lower than 157.

The World Hurdle is not a race won by outsiders in recent years. The array of starting prices has ranged from 11/8 to just 8/1, with the average being around 7/2.

Seven of the last nine winners had won a Grade 1 or Grade 2 race, or finished second in a Grade 1, by the end of December in their World Hurdle-winning season.

Moreover, eight of nine winners had finished either first or second in a Grade 1 or 2 race the previous season. So we're not looking for something to suddenly arrive on the scene here.

The key races are the Long Walk and the Long Distance Hurdle - five of the last nine winners took either a gold or silver medal in one or other of these two contests.

Finally, aside from Baracouda's two triumphs from a base in France, all the other seven winners were UK-trained. Indeed, Ireland has not won the Stayers Hurdle since the beloved Dorans Pride way back in 1995.

So, what does that mean in the context of this season's contenders?

Odds Winner Best to End Dec Best Prev Year
4/6 Big Buck's 1st Long Dist /Long Wlk 1st World Hurdle
10/1 Karabak 2nd Long Walk 2nd G1 Nov H (Chelt)
12/1 Diamond Harry 3rd Long Walk 1st G1
16/1 Sentry Duty 1st Cl2 Chelt H (1/1/10) 1st Listed H'cap H
25/1 Lie Forrit 1st Listed H'cap H 1st Cl4 Nov H
25/1 Katchit 2nd Cl2 Chelt H (1/1/10) 6th Champion Hurdle
25/1 Mr Thriller 1st Listed H'cap H 6th G3 Fred Winter
33/1 Powerstation 1st G2 Hurdle 3rd World Hurdle
33/1 Whiteoak 1st Listed H'cap H 2nd G2
33/1 Mighty Man 1st Cl3 Nov Chase 5th World Hurdle
33/1 Time For Rupert 1st cl2 H'cap H (Chelt) 1st Listed H'cap H
33/1 Fair Along 1st G2 Hurdle 3rdx2 G2 (Chelt/Ain)
33/1 Cousin Vinny 2nd Nov Chase 2nd G1 Hurdle (Punch)
Odds Winner OR Age 1-2 G1, 1 G2? 1-2 G1/2 last yr? Train?
4/6 Big Buck's 174 7 Yes Yes UK
10/1 Karabak 163 7 Yes Yes UK
12/1 Diamond Harry 163 7 No Yes UK
16/1 Sentry Duty 153 8 No No UK
25/1 Lie Forrit 138 6 No No UK
25/1 Katchit 159 7 No No UK
25/1 Mr Thriller 160 5 No No UK
33/1 Powerstation 145 10 Yes No Ire
33/1 Whiteoak 150 7 No Yes UK
33/1 Mighty Man 164 10 No No UK
33/1 Time For Rupert 145 6 No No UK
33/1 Fair Along 162 8 Yes No UK
33/1 Cousin Vinny 146 7 No Yes Ire

What is striking is that Big Buck's looks an absolute cast iron, rock solid, nailed on, lay down, certainty!

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Winner of BOTH the key prep races; rated at the top end of the ratings bracket; the prime age; winner of Grade 1's in both of the last two seasons (including this race last year - repeat wins are a feature of the World Hurdle roll of honour); and trained in the UK by the Champion Trainer, Paul Nicholls.

It's not often you'll read an odds-on tip from me, but on all known form, Big Buck's should probably be around a 1/3 shot (and may be on the day!).

He is highly likely to win, and there's nothing in the field with even a remotely challenging profile. However, let's take a squint at the remainder and see where the most likely place players come from.

Firstly, I'm massively against Sentry Duty, who has a cross in just about every trend box. According to history, he cannot possibly win.

Karabak is second in the betting, and got closest to Big Buck's last time in the Long Walk. He is rated 163 after that run, which puts him on the average. He'll be ridden by a certain AP McCoy, and has ticks in the other boxes. Although I cannot see him beating Big Buck's, he is definitely the most worthy opponent, and has Cheltenham form with a win and second (in the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle last March) to his name from two tries. 10/1 each way looks very fair. (Stop press: since I researched this article last week, he's been backed into a best price 7/1 - less tempting but still reasonable value).

Diamond Harry has the same rating as Karabak, but looks to me like a horse who can bully lesser horses, but just finds it a little tough at the very top level.

Of the remainder, it's hard to make a robust case for any of them. Two who might give runs for a small speculative each way tickle are Katchit and Powerstation.

Katchit won the Champion Hurdle just two seasons ago, and was only beaten less than six lengths in last year's renewal. Forget his 2nd to Sentry Duty in a farcical three runner race last time. He'll finish in front of that one in March, if he takes the World Hurdle route.

Indeed, Katchit's record at Cheltenham is exemplary: FIVE wins (including the Triumph and Champion Hurdles), two second places, and that sixth in last season's Champion Hurdle.

The other wildman's poke at the race is Powerstation. He's ten now, which is waaaaay too old to be seriously entertained as the winner of the race... And yet, he was nine last season when finishing a meritorious third. He's unlikely to be getting any quicker, but he's probably going to run his race and looks good for the first five. It's around 8/1 he makes the first three, so on that basis he might reward a small place investment.

So that's it. To my eye, the most 'open and shut' case of the entire Cheltenham Festival. If he turns up on the day fit and well, it's Big Buck's bar a fall. Like I say, not an inspirational selection, but the profile of this horse is the very epitome of what you'd be looking for in a World Hurdle contender. If you've got big balls, you could do worse than go 'all in' on Big Buck's!

Selection: Big Buck's

Best Each Way: Karabak

Best Outsider: Katchit

What do you think? Can anything get close to Big Buck's? Leave a comment below with your take on the race.

Matt

Year Winner Best Prev Year OR Age SP Trained?
2009 Big Buck's 1st G2 Nov Chs 170 6 6.00 UK
2008 Inglis Drever 1st World Hurdle 172 9 1.38 UK
2007 Inglis Drever 1st G2 Long Distance H 163 8 5.00 UK
2006 My Way De Solzen 2nd Aintree G2 H 157 6 8.00 UK
2005 Inglis Drever 1st 2xG2 Nov H 157 6 5.00 UK
2004 Iris's Gift 2nd World Hurdle 168 7 4.50 UK
2003 Baracouda 1st World Hurdle - 8 2.25 France
2002 Baracouda 1st Sandown G1 H - 7 1.63 France
2001 No race No race
2000 Bacchanal 1st Cl2 Nov H 163 6 5.50 UK
Average: 164 7 4.3611
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10 replies
  1. Derek says:

    Hi Matt!,
    Interesting speculations for The World Hurdle.
    I like your tip: BUG Buck’s!!
    The problem is we don’t know Big Buck’s what???
    The apostrophe must mean something or just a ‘greengrocer’s’ error!!
    I was hoping you’d have something to say about my daughter’s horse: Kayf Aramis.
    Maybe this is the year for a complete outsider to upset the statistics.

    Regards

    Derek

    • Matt Bisogno says:

      Hi Derek

      No idea about the apostrophe, but it’s definitely there!

      As for Kayf Aramis, your daughter is very lucky to have a horse that won at the Cheltenham Festival meeting. Funnily, the Pertemps, which I believe it won, is the race we’re targeting (somewhat wistfully) with Night Orbit this March.

      Matt

  2. tony kavanagh says:

    my only concern re big bucks is his tendency to come on and off the bridle..maybe a bet in running is the way to go?after all he touched 5s in his last race in running?..

  3. John "Ears" says:

    Don’t discount Fair Along as a good place bet. His present 33/1 will be seen as good value should the going be better than soft. He should be there or thereabouts – although I still agree that Big Buck’s should be the one to beat.
    Also I must confess to dreaming about Night Orbit last night. There were about 9 runners on the card and your beloved gee-gee was quoted as 4/7 favourite! Regret Tess woke me up before the off, so I can’t tell you if his short price was justified.

    John “Ears”

  4. Dave says:

    Big Buck’s may be very unoriginal but he is well ahead of the rest. As for the apostrophe, his dam was a French mare called Buck’s. In turn her dam was called Buckleby and her sire was Buckskin. So it looks like this random apostrophe comes from the dam. As for Katchit, will he stay?

    Dave

    • Matt Bisogno says:

      Thanks for the research Dave. Yes, so two Buck parents would make it plural. The apostrophe is still spurious, but at least we know why Buck’s now!

      Matt

  5. ron.goodall says:

    to matt
    big bucks should win in a cantor if i was having a bet in the race it
    would be fair along e.w.
    ron goodall

  6. Mark O'Leary says:

    Matt, with big bucks currently trading at a best priced 4/6 ante post and 4/5 on betfair would it not make sense to wait awhile to back him as he will surely not be shorter dan 1/2 on the day anyways and as you know yourself there is always some couple of short priced horses pulled out due to injury close to the big day!!
    One stat though that ou forgot about is the horrendous record that short priced favs have in the festival!! research in fairness to you is 1st class!!! keep it up!!!!

    • Matt Bisogno says:

      Hi Mark

      You are right in that generally the Cheltenham jollies have a poor record, but this race in the last nine runnings has seen winners at 11/8, 13/8 and 9/4, so short ones do justify their odds here. (That’s not to say that Big Buck’s will, of course, though it’d be a brave punter who bet against him).

      Matt

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