Having first been run back in 1983, the Cleeve Hurdle is now one of the biggest Grade 2 horse races in the UK, taking place every January on the new course at Cheltenham Racecourse. The race is now one of the leading trials for the Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, with the Cleeve Hurdle being run over a distance of 3 miles, with a total of 12 hurdles for runners and riders to overcome. The likes of Big Bucks and Thistlecrack have come out on top over the years, with a number of big names expected to battle it out in January 2019.
The race was upgraded to Grade 1 status in 1991, however it was then demoted back to Grade 2 in 2004. A hugely competitive field is expected at Cheltenham later this month, with some of the leading trainers expected to trial their prized assets ahead of the upcoming Cheltenham Festival, while bettors will keep an eye on top runners and bookmaker offers as they can give a good idea on what Cheltenham betting promotions will be like later on in March.
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Cleve Hurdle 2019 (Sat. 26th January)
The 2019 Cleeve Hurdle takes place on the old course at Cheltenham Racecourse on the 26th January, with the day’s standout race getting underway at 15:35. The Grade 2 event is the sixth of seven races taking place on the card, which includes the Ballymore Classic Novices’ Hurdle and Steel Plate And Sections Handicap Hurdle. The winner of the Cleeve Hurdle will take home prize money of £33,762.
Cleve Hurdle 2019 Winners
|1||Paisley Park||10/3f||Aidan Coleman||Miss E C Lavelle|
|2||West Approach||20/1||T Scudamore||C L Tizzard|
|3||Black Op||11/2||N D Fehily||T R George|
Cleeve Hurdle & Cheltenham Festival
As previously mentioned, the Cleeve Hurdle acts as a trial race for the Stayers’ Hurdle at the famous Cheltenham Festival. Cleeve Hurdle winners are likely to be offered short odds of completing a famous double at Cheltenham in March.
Former Cleeve Hurdle runners including Saphir Du Rheu and Big Bucks have achieved relative success in the Stayers’ Hurdle, however 2018 winner Agrapart failed to make it to Cheltenham, with the Nick Williams trained 8-year-old having finished as runner up in the Rendlesham Hurdle at Haydock just a matter of weeks after his Cleeve Hurdle success. It is worth noting that 10 of the last 12 Cleeve Hurdle winners have gone on to run in the Stayers Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, with four having won and the same number placing.
Irish Champion Hurdle 2018 Winners
Agrapart finished three lengths ahead of the 9/2 favourite Wholestone to win the 2018 Cleve Hurdle crown, going one better than his runner up position in the Relkeel Hurdle just a matter of weeks beforehand. Williams’ Agrapart produced a fine finish, with the duo having been neck and neck over the final hurdle.
Jockey Lizzie Kelly led the 8-year-old to victory almost 12 months ago, however Agrapart was not sent to Cheltenham again due to it being a heavy ground specialist. Elsewhere, Beer Goggles had been expected to challenge, however jockey Richard Johnson was forced to take the outside route home, allowing Colin’s Sister and The Worlds End to finish in third and fourth respectively.