Alan King holds strong hand in Greatwood Hurdle

Alan King saddles last year’s winner Harambe and the ante-post favourite Edwardstone in Sunday’s Unibet Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham.

King enjoyed a fruitful summer on the Flat with three Royal Ascot winners, a success on Champions Day with Trueshan and the November Handicap through On To Victory.

One the same day as the latter he also won the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton with Sceau Royal, so there is no doubting his horses remain in excellent form.

“You need the right ammunition for this race, bur Harambe won it last year and, together with Edwardstone, we go back with two solid chances,” said King.

“Harambe had a run before he went there last year and though that has not been possible this time around, he has been moving very well and pleasing me at home.”

Harambe has not been seen since the Betfair Hurdle in February when he was brought down at the final flight when still in contention.

King told his website: “Harambe was brought down at the last at Newbury and was on the floor for a while. It has taken him a long time to recover, but he did his pre-training at AP’s (McCoy) and it is good to have him back in action here.”

Edwardstone was beaten a neck in a Grade Two on heavy ground at Haydock before a respectable sixth in the Supreme in March last season and looks the right type for the race, although ground conditions could become a concern.

Edwardstone was a smart novice last season
Edwardstone was a smart novice last season (David Davies/PA)

“He is an exciting prospect with untapped potential and though he can be a bit free in his races, he is beautifully relaxed at the moment, which is very encouraging,” said King.

“He was a high-class novice last season and ran well in the Supreme at the Festival when our horses were not really firing. I hope the forecast rain does not materialise as he is more effective on better ground.

“Both horses schooled on Monday and we’ve done as much as we can with them at home but while both would make lovely chasers, this is a great race in which to start back and I am very happy with them.”

In contrast, top-weight Ballyandy would benefit from the forecast rain, according to his trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies.

Ballyandy won the Champion Bumper in 2016
Ballyandy won the Champion Bumper in 2016 (Mike Egerton/PA)

“I thought he ran a cracker under top-weight at Ffos Las to split Sceau Royal and Buzz last time out and I’d love to run him in this, but he does want it a bit softer,” Twiston-Davies told William Hill.

Jamie Snowden registered one of the biggest winners of his career last weekend with Ga Law and chases another with Pisagh Pike.

“He’s a highly-progressive sort since we gave him a wind op in the summer and he’s won his two novice hurdles well,” said Snowden.

“He just got touched off in a Listed race at Market Rasen which arguably he perhaps should have gone on and won.

“He’s got a nice handicap mark so hopefully we can try to exploit in a big race like this.”

Thinking is massively unexposed for David Pipe, having his first run since being bought from France over 800 days ago.

“We’ve had him since he was a three-year-old,” said Pipe.

“His owner (Nick Shutts) has been very patient. He picked up a tendon injury. He was actually due to run last year when the lockdown happened.

“He’s got an engine. He’s rated 132 so he’s at the right end of the handicap but he wants soft ground.

“We like him and hopefully he can repay the owner’s patience.”

Dan Skelton’s Proschema is another lightly-raced type and jockey Harry Skelton is another who will be watching the skies.

“I’m looking forward to him and the drier the ground the better. It’s a bit of a wet forecast which could be a bit of a problem, but I’m sure we’ll take our chance,” he said on Racing TV.

“The better the ground the stronger his chance. He ran a nice race the last day at Wetherby and he’s come forward from that.”

Paul Nicholls’ Thyme White, who was impressive at Chepstow, and Tom Lacey’s Sebastopol are other fancied runners.

Greatwood Hurdle Trends

The Greatwood Hurdle, this year, will at the Cheltenham November Meeting and continues to be sponsored by leading bookmaker Unibet.

Run over 2m ½ f on the Old Course the contest gives National Hunt racing fans some early season pointers ahead of the Champion Hurdle, run at Cheltenham at the Festival in March – Rooster Booster (2002) was the last horse to win this race and go onto land that same season’s Champion Hurdle.

Since 1988 the race has been won four times by the Pipe stable, three times by Philip Hobbs and three times, including in 2015, by ex-champion trainer Paul Nicholls.

Here at GeeGeez we take a look back at recent winners and gives you the key trends to look out for ahead of the 2020 renewal.....this year run on Sunday 15th November.

Recent Greatwood Hurdle Winners

2019 – HARAMBE (16/1)
2018 - NIETZSCHE (20/1)
2017 - ELGIN (10/1)
2016 – NORTH HILL HARVEY (6/1)
2015 – OLD GUARD (12/1)
2014 – GARDE LA VICTOIRE (10/1)
2013 – DELL ‘ARCA (12/1)
2012 – OLOFI (8/1)
2011 – BRAMPOUR (12/1)
2010 – MENORAH (6/1)
2009 – KHYBER KIM (9/1)
2008 – NUMIDE (5/1)
2007 – SIZING EUROPE (5/1)
2006 – DETROIT CITY (6/5 fav)
2005 – LINGO (5/1)
2004 – ACCORDION ETOILE (100/30 fav)
2003 – RIGMAROLE (33/1)
2002 – ROOSTER BOOSTER (7/1)

Greatwood Hurdle Betting Trends and Stats

16/18 – Had won a 2m1f (or further) hurdles race before
16/18 – Had won no more than 4 times before over hurdles
14/18 – Aged 4 or 5 years-old
13/18 – Had a recent run (within the last 6 weeks)
12/18 – Officially rated 140 or higher
12/18 – Finished in the top two last time out
12/18 – Had run at Cheltenham before
11/18 – Returned 10/1 or shorter in the betting
10/18 – Had run 6 or less times over hurdles
10/18 –  Winning distance – 2 lengths or further
8/18 – Carried 11-4 or more
8/18 – Placed favourites
7/18 – Came from the first three in the betting
7/18 – Won their previous race
6/18 – Won by an Irish-bred horse
4/18 – Winners that carried 11-12
4/18 – Trained by Philip Hobbs
3/18 – Ridden by Richard Johnson
3/18 – Trained by Paul Nicholls
2/18 – Winning favourites
2/18 – Trained by Alan King (2 of the last 3)
1/18 – Won by an Irish-trained horse
The average winning SP in the last 18 years is 10/1
6 of the last 11 winners contested the previous season’s Supreme Novices’ or Triumph Hurdle