Christmas Hurdle Race Date is Saturday, 26 December 2020
Type: Grade 1 National Hunt Hurdle Race
Age Of The Horses: Four Years Old And Up
Distance: 2 Miles
Winner 2019: Epatante
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Christmas Hurdle General Info
The Kempton Christmas Hurdle should not be confused with a race registered in the same name at Leopardstown over three miles in Ireland during the Christmas Festival and held a couple of days later. We are talking about the two-mile hurdle race held on the King George card on Boxing Day here. What does the 2020 Ladbrokes Christmas Hurdle have in store? Let’s find out.
Christmas Hurdle Runners & Tips
There is a maximum field of seven official 2020 Christmas Hurdle runners from the entries made in this year’s race. Many of these contested the International Hurdle at Cheltenham or Fighting Fifth up at Newcastle earlier within the last month. Here are the horses in contention for one of the big Boxing Day races at Kempton:
- Ballyandy (Nigel Twiston-Davies)
- Diego Du Charmil (Paul Nicholls)
- Goshen (Gary Moore)
- Sceau Royal (Alan King)
- Silver Streak (Evan Williams)
- Epatante (Nicky Henderson)*
- Floressa (Nicky Henderson)*
*Receives a 7lb sex allowance as a mare
Christmas Hurdle Tips
Nicky Henderson has trained the last three Kempton Christmas Hurdle winners, including defending champ Epatante. Since her triumph 12 months, she has completed the Triple Crown of hurdling by adding the Champion Hurdle and Fighting Fifth at Newcastle to her CV. Aidan Coleman didn’t even have to get serious on her to win the latter on reappearance as she brushed aside a race-fit and in-form rival in Sceau Royal with consummate ease. There can be little doubt that Epatante is the best two-mile hurdler in training going into the 2020 Christmas Hurdle and the defence of her title.
As a mare, she gets a 7lb sex allowance from the geldings and they are simply struggling to give that weight away to her. There may be even more to come from Epatante, and the way she won up at Newcastle in a canter was scary. It is expected to be a similar story here. She heads the Christmas Hurdle betting entirely on merit and remains the one to beat. It will take something to go awry or major improvement from a rival to keep Epatante from going into the winners’ enclosure again.
Evan Williams has been desperately unlucky with Silver Streak, as in another era her probably would have won a Grade 1 by now. He endured a nightmare time up at Newcastle in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle when carried out of the race by a loose horse approaching the second hurdle. Connections will be out for compensation as, before that, he won the same Listed race over the Christmas Hurdle Kempton course and distance again. With form figures of 121 at the track, he is probably the main danger to Epatante again, granted a clear round.
Silver Streak does have a possible engagement in the Grade 2 International Hurdle at Cheltenham before the 2020 Christmas Hurdle, but many horses double up and run in both. This popular grey placed in the 2019 Champion Hurdle, yet prefers a sounder surface to race on. All known form says Epatante has his number, so Silver Streak will need a career best and far better fortune on his side than what happened on Tyneside at Kempton if turning up on Boxing Day again.
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Christmas Hurdle Stats & Trends
Before you dive into the Christmas Hurdle betting, it is well worth making yourself aware of the statistics behind the race. Knowing these can help you decide who to back and why. Also, make sure to check William Hill Cheltenham offer and the likes from other bookies to get the most out of your bet. Read all about the prevailing Kempton Christmas Hurdle trends below:
- Most successful horse – Seven horses have won this race more than once. They are Coral Diver (1969 and 1971), Lanzarote (1973 and 1975), Kribensis (1988 and 1989), Intersky Falcon (2002 and 2003), Harchibald (2004 and 2005), Binocular (2010 and 2011), and Faugheen (2014 and 2015).
- Most successful jockey – National Hunt riding legend Sir Tony McCoy holds the record for most Kempton Christmas Hurdle wins in the saddle with five. Nico de Boinville is the only current active jockey to have tasted victory in this race.
- Most successful trainer – Nicky Henderson is the master with Christmas Hurdle runners, saddling nine to victory this century. As mentioned above, that includes the last three renewals of the race. Eight different horses from Henderson’s Seven Barrows stables have come into the winners’ enclosure to date: Geos (2000), Landing Light (2001), Binocular (2010 and 2011), Darlan (2012), My Tent Or Yours (2013), Buveur D’Air (2017), Verdana Blue (2018) and Epatante (2019).
- Most successful owner – Mega racehorse owner JP McManus is out on his own as having won this the most. His famous green and gold hooped silks have been carried to victory on Christmas Hurdle runners eight times since 2007. McManus has also had two thirds and a second, meaning he has had a horse at least placed on 11 occasions in the last 13 years.
- Age – Five Kempton Christmas Hurdle winners from 2013 have been six-year-olds. Only three horses aged four in the entire race’s history have managed to win, highlighting the difficulty they face stepping into open company. Three winners since 2010 have also been seven-year-olds. There have also been a couple of horses aged five to earn victory from 2012. You should focus on the five-to-seven age bracket, then.
- Favourites – Five of the last six market leaders have won the Christmas Hurdle, so it has certainly paid to follow main betting fancies. The favourite has a superb recent record, then.
- Ratings – Eight of the 12 most recent Kempton Christmas Hurdle winners had an official mark of 160 or higher. That shows you need horses with very lofty ratings to land the race usually. However, it is also worth bearing in mind that three of the last four victors were rated 157 or less going into the contest. That suggests you not discount unexposed young horses that are open to further improvement and progressing from run to run.
Past Christmas Hurdle Winners
|2020||Silver Streak||7||Adam Wedge||Evan Williams||6th in Champion Hurdle|
|2019||Epatante||5||Barry Geraghty||Nicky Henderson||Won Champion Hurdle|
|2018||Verdana Blue||6||Nico de Boinville||Nicky Henderson||5th in Champion Hurdle|
|2017||Buveur D’Air||6||Barry Geraghty||Nicky Henderson||1st in Champion Hurdle|
|2016||Yanworth||6||Barry Geraghty||Alan King||7th in Champion Hurdle|
|2015||Faugheen||7||Ruby Walsh||Willie Mullins||Did not race|
|2014||Faugheen||6||Ruby Walsh||Willie Mullins||1st in Champion Hurdle|
|2013||My Tent Or Yours||6||Tony McCoy||Nicky Henderson||2nd in Champion Hurdle|
|2012||Darlan||5||Tony McCoy||Nicky Henderson||Did not race|
|2011||Binocular||7||Tony McCoy||Nicky Henderson||4th in Champion Hurdle|
|2010||Binocular||7||Tony McCoy||Nicky Henderson||Did not race|
What Happened in 2020?
A deserved Grade 1 success for Silver Streak came at last in the Kempton Christmas Hurdle as Evan Williams’ horse kept it simple and made all the running. In landing odds of 13/2, he reversed the form of last year’s race under Adam Wedge and upset long odds-on favourite Epatante who had previously had his number. The popular grey set out his stall from the front and never saw another rival. As Silver Streak sluiced up in the Christmas Hurdle, Epatante made mistakes and was never nearer than three lengths down at the last. Aidan Coleman accepted defeat on the run-in as JP McManus’ Nicky Henderson trained mare trailed in 6½ lengths behind.
Last year’s Christmas Hurdle third Ballyandy filled the same spot again for father-son team Nigel and Sam Twiston-Davies at odds of 16/1, but was some 15 lengths behind Silver Streak. Henderson’s other mare Floressa was never put in the race really and unfancied 22/1, but just lost out on a place under Nico de Boinville. She in turn was 45 lengths clear of 50/1 outsider Diego Du Charmil for Harry Cobden and Paul Nicholls. The small Kempton Christmas Hurdle field was blown apart by such positive tactics on Silver Streak, who can finally celebrate success at the highest level. Bookmakers have pushed Epatante out for the Champion Hurdle.