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.
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 2022, a Grade 2 race in its own right, will be run on Cheltenham Trials Day on Saturday January 29th 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.