This is quite simply one of my favourite races at the festival. World class horses and a background of legendary winners including the likes of Inglis Drever, Big Bucks and Baracouda. If that doesn’t whet your appetite enough, then consider that this is one of the best races to bet on across the whole festival – Racing doesn’t get much better than this!
The basics are three miles and twelve hurdles; until 2005 the race was referred to as “The Stayers Hurdle”. It is fantastic that The World Hurdle has been blessed with some of the racing worlds’ most loved competitors, as it means that although day 3 of the Cheltenham Festival lacks one of the so called “big three” races, the crowd can still look forward to one of the most eagerly anticipated races of the whole four days.
- The Ladbrokes World Hurdle is classified as a Grade 1 Hurdle.
- In recent years, the race has been contested at a start time of 15:20 on day three of the Cheltenham Festival, which is a Thursday.
- The race is open to horses aged four years or older; fillies and mares can claim a 7lb allowance.
- The total distance of the race is bang on 3 miles.
- In 2011 the winner received circa £148k and the total prize fund was approximately £256k.
- There are a total of 12 hurdles to be navigated.
- The last 10 renewals have seen 5 winning favourites.
- The last time a 5 year old won the race was back in 1972.
- The last 10 years have only seen 5 different winning horses; multiple winners of The World Hurdle are commonplace.
- 10 out of the last 10 winners finished either 1st or 2nd in their previous race.
- 20 out of the last 20 winners finished 4th or better in their previous race.
- The history of the race has seen 12 winning favourites; this spans back to 1972.
- Out of the previous 10 winners, 8 have started at odds of 5/1 or shorter.
- 11 out of the previous 11 winners began the race at odds of 8/1 or less.
- 15 of the last 17 had previously contested a race at the Cheltenham Festival.
- In the last 20 renewals, horses between the ages of 6 and 9 have won the World Hurdle, although only one 9 year old has won the race during this time.
- 13 out of the last 20 have been won by either a 7 or 8 year old.
- French bred horses have won 7 out of the last 10 renewals.
- Irish bred horses have a woeful record in terms of winning the World Hurdle, although over the past 10 years, 9 Irish bred horses have placed.
- Over the past 16 years, there has not been an Irish trained winner of the race.
- In the past 4 renewals, 11 out of 12 placed horses (3 placed) were either French or Irish bred.
- There has not been a double figure odds winner of the race since 1999; on this occasion Anzum took the honours at the gigantic price of 40/1.
- Big Bucks, winner of the World Hurdle in 2009, 2010 and 2011 has not lost a race since the 29th of November 2008, winning 12 Group 1 & 2 races along the way.
Betting on the World Hurdle
The form stands up really well in the World Hurdle, so I would not be looking at any horses priced in the double figures bracket. 11 of the last 11 have won at odds of less than 8/1, so I think this is a good signpost for our betting selection.
Let’s talk about the age of the horse. I will not be backing a 5 year old, as no 5 year old has won the race since 1972 and playing the percentages I will primarily be on the look out ideally for a 7 or 8 year old. 7 and 8 year olds have won 65% of renewals over the past 20 years and this looks to be the optimum range to approach for our final selection.
Good current form is significant, so look for a horse that has finished at least in the top 4 (20 out of 20) in its last race and preferably within the top 2 (10 of last 10).
French raiders have a huge appetite for the World Hurdle, so with 7 of the last 10 winners being bred in the country, we have to give vast respect to le cheval (French for horses!) competing in the race.
Being a player or a layer is probably the most important thing to decide when betting on the World Hurdle. The reason for this? The domination of individual superstars in the race, especially in the past 10 or 15 years, has meant that you will often get a short priced jolly to either side with or take on. Ultimately your bet for the race will most likely depend on your personal opinion regarding the horse that is at the top of the betting market.
If we look to Baracouda, Inglis Drever and more recently Big Bucks, their ability to win the World Hurdle more than once has in some way contributed to the fantastic record of favourites over the years. If you are looking at having a bet on The World Hurdle, my advice when looking at the multiple winners that are again contesting the race would be to consider their age and vulnerability to any promising up and coming staying hurdlers. Yes, it is an obvious point, but in the World Hurdle those entrants that have won the race before should command big respect, as their records when competing against the new crop of talent stand up particularly well.
I am a big romantic at heart really, so I love to see the legends of Cheltenham defend their crowns at the festival. The World Hurdle is probably the best example of a race with multiple winners in recent years, so it really is a great spectacle and one of my favourite races at the festival, enjoy!
For the 2012 Cheltenham Festival the leading offers are: Bet365 £200 free bets, BetVictor £25 free bet, and Stan James £150 free bets.
History of the Race
The World Hurdle has not always been known as the World Hurdle, or even The Ladbrokes World Hurdle for that matter, the change of name and sponsor actually only came about in 2005.
There have been many sponsors of the race since its inception in 1972 and these include Bonusprint from between 1991 to 2004 and Waterford Crystal between 1978 to 1990.
Before 1972 the race that the Stayers’ Hurdle replaced was known as The Spa Hurdle. I cannot find any relevant information about the Spa Hurdle, so I would ask that if any Sportsbook Guardian readers have information about the history of the race, they get in contact. I am sure our readers would love any additional information on the race history, so if you are hiding some brilliant snippets of information, then share the love and drop us a mail.
Many racing enthusiasts still know the Ladbrokes World Hurdle as the Stayers’ Hurdle, because the race was initially conceived as the Lloyds Bank Stayers Hurdle in 1972. I have to confess, I also still refer to the race by it’s old name, mainly because it does exactly what it says on the tin, it is for hurdlers who stay the 3 mile distance.
On a slight tangent, you may not know that when the race was moved to the new course from the old course, the organisers decided to chop a furlong off the total distance of the race. So back in the day, it was even more of a stayers’ race then it is now!
The World Hurdle is now run on the third day of the Cheltenham Festival; it was moved to this day from 1993, having been competed on either the Tuesday or the Wednesday in previous years. It is now classed as the main event of Thursday’s racing schedule and is viewed as the most prestigious hurdling prize in the racing calendar.
The history of The World Hurdle has seen many dual and even treble winners of the race. The first horse to complete the double was Galmoy, trained by John Mulhern in 1988 and 1989. With circa ten years of individual winners, the 2000s have been blessed with some of the greatest hurdlers of a generation, who have all won the World Hurdle on more than one occasion.
Baracouda, trained by Francois Doumen, won the World Hurdle in 2002 and 2003. Baracouda is certainly one of the most prominent and legendary hurdlers ever to be seen at the festival. The gelding’s career spanned 18 victories, most being achieved at the highest level and he racked up an astonishing £774k in prize money, winning 2 World Hurdles and 2 Ascot Hurdles along the way. Amazingly, Baracouda also finished second in The World Hurdle in 2004 (Iris’s Gift) and 2005 (Inglis Drever). He retired after the 2006 renewal, coming in a creditable 5th place, behind the winner, My Way De Solzen.
Inglis Drever was the first horse ever to win the World Hurdle three times and for that, he requires maximum respect. The bay gelding won in 2005, 2007 and 2008, he was potentially robbed of the chance for a quadruple attempt at the Stayers’ Hurdle crown due to an injury in 2006 and many racing fans view Inglis Drever as the best hurdler ever. With total prize money throughout his career of £796k and 17 victories, including the John Smith’s Hurdle and Cleeve Hurdle, Inglis Drever was a hurdling legend. It was a sad day when he was put down due to colic in October 2009, he will be sorely missed, especially by the Cheltenham faithful.
Big Buck’s is still on the scene, in a big way, and will most likely go off as favourite for the World Hurdle in 2012. The crowds favourite at Cheltenham is on the verge of a fourth successive victory in the race and many believe that along with Inglis Drever, we are witnessing the best hurdler ever to grace the Cheltenham Festival. With £982k worth of prize money, 17 wins including The Cleeve Hurdle and Long Walk (2009/2010), it is difficult to put an argument against this phenomenal animal. Big Buck’s is certainly a part of Cheltenham Festival history and his three victories in the World Hurdle between 2009 to 2011 make him a serious force to be reckoned with and the French import is also one of the best loved horses the festival has ever seen!