Cleeve Hurdle Date is 25th January 2020 (15:35)

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Type: Grade 2 National Hunt Hurdle (3 miles)

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Trial race for Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival

Page Contents

General Race Info

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Runners & Tips

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Stats & Trends

Past Winners

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 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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2020 Cleeve Hurdle General Info

As a three-mile hurdle race around Cheltenham, it goes without saying that this event is used as a key trial for the Grade 1 Stayers’ Hurdle at the Festival on Thursday March 12th.

The Cleeve Hurdle 2020, a Grade 2 race in its own right, will be run on Cheltenham Trials Day on Saturday January 25th at 3.35PM and is given second billing on the day only behind the Cotswold Chase.

During the event, which has been on the calendar since 1983 and has produced future Festival winners such as Inglis Drever, Big Buck’s, Thistlecrack and Paisley Park, there are twelve hurdles of the New Course to be jumped and the field will be fighting for a share of a cool £60,000 in prize money.

As a most obvious trial, the Cleeve Hurdle remains hugely important not just for those directly involved with the sport, but also for bettors as important clues are given just 47 days before the big event.

Cleeve Hurdle 2020 Key Runners

We’re still at the early entry and ante post stage of this race so much can change before the final declarations come through on January 24th, but on all known evidence of these top-class hurdlers the below five should be the ones making their presence felt in this Stayers’ Hurdle trial:

Horse Age Jockey Trainer
Apples Jade 8 TBC Gordon Elliott
If The Cap Fits 8 TBC Harry Fry
Paisley Park 8 TBC Emma Lavelle
Summerville Boy 8 TBC Tom George
William Henry 10 TBC Nicky Henderson

Cleeve Hurdle 2020 Tips

Apple’s Jade (4/1)

Racing favourite Apple’s Jade is pretty much looking back to her best now meaning the weight she gets from the boys could really tell. She is high class, there’s no doubt about that, but she’s always been just a few pounds below her top level around this track and that just tempers enthusiasm a tad at prices as short as 4/1. Odds are subject to change.

If The Cap Fits (7/2)

If The Cap Fits is very definitely heading in the right direction; Harry Fry’s horse has won over three miles at Aintree and over 2½ at Ascot so now needs to put it all together by going the full distance around this tough course. If he can do that, then there’s no doubt he could be the fly in Paisley Park’s ointment at a relatively attractive 7/2. Odds are subject to change.

Paisley Park (4/7)

Winner of this race and the Stayers’ Hurdle itself last season, the bookmakers can afford to take no chances with Paisley Park and indeed at 4/7 they haven’t. He’s rock-solid for sure, but his seasonal reappearance wasn’t earth-shattering and he’s missed an engagement since then because of the ground meaning his prep may not have been totally ideal. Odds are subject to change.

Summerville Boy (8/1)

After an aborted spell over fences, Tom George’s Summerville Boy has rediscovered his best form over the smaller obstacles and was a decent winner of the Relkeel Hurdle here last time out. He should give each-way backers a fair run for their money, but isn’t considered for the win. Odds are subject to change.

Cleeve Hurdle Ante Post Tip: IF THE CAP FITS

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.

Cleeve Hurdle Stats & Trends

Some of these are interesting this time. Age-wise, there’s nothing much to glean. Being aged anywhere between 5 and 9 seems to be OK for these stayers, though the form figures are more fascinating to read.

  • 11 out of 15 winners in this period, or 73% of them, had 2-3 runs that season possibly showing that this race doesn’t suit a horse who is overworked and “over the top”.
  • 10 out of 15 (67%) won at least one of their previous two races, while taking out those who fell last time out,
  • 10 out of 13 (77%) were in the first 2 in their previous race. Those who did fall last time out won the outing before.
  • 7 out of 15 favourites (47%) have gone in, a good record at an average of just 6/4, leaving 7 out of 14 (not including the outrageous 66/1 shot who won) winners at an average of just under 10/1.

It seems therefore, Cleeve Hurdle betting wise, that it’s all or nothing. If there is no short-priced superstar in the field, it could pay to back a live outsider and go for a little each-way value.

Cleeve Hurdle Betting

The very familiar ‘best odds guaranteed’ will form part of the Cleeve Hurdle offers for sure across a range of bookmakers, no doubt including Paddy Power and Betfair.

Grabbing that deal should be automatic and it pretty much guarantees you the best possible price for your horse if you get on early enough, while you should also be keeping a watchful eye on other offers as Cheltenham money-back deals and ‘free bet if your horse is second to the SP favourite’ offers should be plentiful around this time too.

Past Cleeve Hurdle Winners

Having risen the ranks steadily throughout the season, Emma Lavelle’s Paisley Park was sent off the 10/3 favourite for this race which with the benefit of hindsight was a huge price.

There were some big names at big prices in behind including the likes of West Approach, Sam Spinner, Lil Rockerfeller, Unowhatimeanharry and Wholestone, but it was Paisley Park who stayed on best of all up the hill to claim the £33,000 first prize by a fine looking twelve lengths. Given that the Cleeve Hurdle was downgraded to Grade 2 status in 2004 and upped from 2 miles 5 furlongs to its present distance of three miles in 2005, we’ve listed only the winners from that period to see how they fared at the subsequent Cheltenham Festival.

Year Winner Age Jockey Trainer Festival Performance
2019 Paisley Park 7 Aidan Coleman Emma Lavelle 1st in Stayers’ Hurdle
2018 Agrapart 7 Lizzie Kelly Nick Williams Did not race
2017 Unowhatimeanharry 9 Barry Geraghty Harry Fry 3rd in Stayers’ Hurdle
2016 Thistlecrack 8 Tom Scudamore Colin Tizzard 1st in Stayers’ Hurdle
2015 Saphir Du Rheu 6 Sam Twiston-Davies Paul Nicholls 2nd in Stayers’ Hurdle
2014 Knockara Beau 11 Jan Faltajsek George Charlton 7th in Gold Cup
2013 Reve De Sivola 9 Richard Johnson Nick Williams 4th in Stayers’ Hurdle
2012 Big Buck’s 9 Ruby Walsh Paul Nicholls 1st in Stayers’ Hurdle
2011 Grands Crus 6 Tom Scudamore David Pipe 2nd in Stayers’ Hurdle
2010 Tidal Bay 9 Brian Hughes Howard Johnson 7th in Stayers’ Hurdle