World Hurdle – Race Preview
The feature race on day three of this year’s Cheltenham Festival is the World Hurdle, the most prestigious race in the long-distance staying hurdle season. Run over a distance of three miles, with 12 hurdles jumped, the World Hurdle has been won by a number of hurdling greats such as Baracouda, Inglis Drever and Big Bucks, who won the race four times in succession. This year’s renewal looks set to be another classic with 13 runners set to take part.
The current favourite for the World Hurdle is the Colin Tizzard trained Thistlecrack who has been one of the revelations of the season. He goes into Thursday’s race looking for a third successive Grade 1 success following victories in the Long Walk Hurdle and the Cleeve Hurdle. Those races are excellent prep runs for the World Hurdle and with Thistlecrack having shown that he is adaptable to ground conditions, he looks set to take all the beating.
The current second favourite is the Mouse Morris trained Alpha Des Obeaux who has enjoyed a strong season despite only recording the one victory thus far. Placed efforts behind the high-class Nichols Canyon and Arctic Fire give Alpha Des Obeaux an excellent chance but in what looks a competitive race, he again may find one too good.
Cole Harden won this race last year, making all to record a facile success. He has struggled for form this season so far but excuses can be made for his performances and he did struggle for form before last year’s success. With the ground continuing to dry, a return to form could well be expected and he looks set to run a big race as he defends his title.
Leading trainer Paul Nicholls will be represented by Saphir Du Rheu and Aux Ptits Soins as he looks to win the race for the fifth time. Sapphire Du Rheu is a dual purpose horse having won both over hurdles and fences and finished second behind Cole Harden in last year’s renewal. He has however disappointed in both runs over the winter but Nicholls has commented that he expects a big run and it’s noteworthy that Sam Twistor-Davies, who had the choice of both horses, has opted to take the ride on Saphir Du Rheu.
The Nicky Henderson trained Whisper was fifth in last year’s race but then defeated Cole Harden at Aintree at the Grand National meeting. A multiple winner at Cheltenham, including when winning the Coral Cup two years ago, it would be no surprise if he was to run a big race following a disappointing winter.
Thistlecrack is the current 2.20 (6/5) favourite for the race with Alpha Des Obeaux available at 7 (6/1). Cole Harden is currently 8 (7/1), Sapphire Du Rheu 11 (10/1) and Whisper 15 (14/1). The horse racing tip for Thursday’s World Hurdle is Cole Harden each-way at 8 (7/1).
By: Scott McGlynn