Greatwood Hurdle Date is 17th November 2019

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Type: Grade 3 handicap hurdle race (2 miles ½ furlong)

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Trial race for the Champion Hurdle

2019 Greatwood Hurdle Key Runners

2019 Greatwood Hurdle Top Tips

Past Winners

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Greatwood Hurdle

Run under various titles in the past, the Greatwood Hurdle is a two-mile, half-a-furlong handicap hurdle race (Grade 3) with its origins going back to 1987 when Celtic Shot was the first winner of the event.

It is run each year during Cheltenham’s second meeting of the season, the November Meeting in the middle of that month, with the 2019 edition due to take place on Sunday 17th.

Many future Cheltenham Festival runners have used the Greatwood as a season-starting prep race, most notably for the Champion Hurdle but also for races such as the County Hurdle or even the Supreme Novices’. While only one winner in recent times has gone on to Festival glory, this remains a race of great importance when assessing Cheltenham form overall.

Back in 2002 Philip Hobbs’ Rooster Booser, at eight years old the oldest horse to have won the Greatwood in the last 20 years, went on from his win in this race to score in the Champion Hurdle itself when scorching away by 11 lengths under Richard Johnson to record a famous and very popular victory.

2019 Greatwood Hurdle Key Runners

42 remain in the Greatwood at the ante post stage, but a maximum of 24 will be allowed to line up during the November meeting as we begin to whittle down our Champion Hurdle candidates.

Horse Age Jockey Trainer
Benny’s Bridge 6 TBC Fergal O’Brien
Ecco 4 TBC Paul Nicholls
Epatante 5 TBC Nicky Henderson
Fusil Raffles 4 TBC Nicky Henderson
Humble Hero 5 TBC Dan Skelton
Janidil 5 TBC Willie Mullins
Monsieur Lecoq 5 TBC Jane Williams
Quel Destin 4 TBC Paul Nicholls
Red Force One 4 TBC Paul Nicholls
Sebastopol 5 TBC Tom Lacey

2019 Greatwood Hurdle Top Tips

As always this is a fascinating race, one that often produces Champion Hurdle candidates. The reason however that in terms of picking the winner of this race we cannot afford to look at such candidates as that this is a handicap, and as such the winner can and often does come from lower in the weights.

Quel Destin

With the ground now also a major factor, the likes of Paul Nicholls’ Quel Destin have come right into the equation and it would be no surprise to see this horse go on to success at the Cheltenham Festival in March. He undoubtedly has great potential so whatever happens in this race, keep an eye on him, though he is a young horse and hasn’t quite reached his full potential yet which may or may not affect his chances in this particular race.

Gumball

Philip Hobbs’ Gumball did well to win in Listed company last time out at Ascot, but of course that means he has been handicapped appropriately and he is uncertain to really relish this heavy ground, which leaves us with one solid option at a good value price.

Benny’s Bridge

Cheltenham-based trainer Fergal O’Brien hasn’t yet won this race but knows exactly what it takes to win around Prestbury Park, something personified by his likeable candidate Benny’s Bridge. The improving 6-year-old landed a huge gamble in a handicap at the Showcase Meeting in October and a browse through his profile suggests he definitely saves his best work for this track. Given that he’s still well handicapped and priced tantalisingly, he rates as the best contender for us.

Greatwood Hurdle Bet: BENNY’S BRIDGE

Antepost Tips

As always this is a fascinating race, one that often produces Champion Hurdle candidates. The reason however that in terms of picking the winner of this race we cannot afford to look at such candidates as that this is a handicap, and as such the winner can and often does come from lower in the weights.

Humble Hero

Attempting at this stage to narrow the field down and come up with a value advance wager is tough, but in the case of Humble Hero we know of a horse climbing the ranks rather rapidly. Dan Skelton’s gelding had some good handicap form last season and was expected to win his reappearance run easily at Ludlow but for falling, though he wasn’t going that well at the time.

The race would have done him some good however and he’s certainly not out of this, much like Sebastopol. Vying for early favouritism, Tom Lacey’s 5-year-old is race fit after a good win at Wincanton and should go on and up from there, but probably only if the ground is decent which can be far from guaranteed in November.

Red Force One

Paul Nicholls’ Red Force One is another with the benefit of recent experience having won easily at Fakenham before just being nudged out by Gumball at Ascot. He’s going the right way and probably won’t mind whatever ground conditions face him, though he wouldn’t be the classiest individual in the field despite coming from a celebrated yard.

Benny’s Bridge

Cheltenham-based trainer Fergal O’Brien hasn’t yet won this race but knows exactly what it takes to win around Prestbury Park, something personified by his likeable candidate Benny’s Bridge. The improving 6-year-old landed a huge gamble in a handicap at the Showcase Meeting in October and a browse through his profile suggests he definitely saves his best work for this track. Given that he’s still well handicapped and priced tantalisingly, he rates as the best early value at this stage.

Ante Post Bet: BENNY’S BRIDGE

Greatwood Hurdle Stats & Trends

The key thing to remember is that this is a handicap hurdle, so while the above list will show that for the majority of the better horses this is used as a Champion Hurdle trial, it can in fact be won by a horse lower in the weights who will not be aimed very high at the Festival.

Those aged 4-5 have won 15 of the last 19 runnings of the Greatwood, showing that the younger horses have fared best. This again could be because of the handicap scenario; i.e. younger horses are still improving and so therefore are often well handicapped.

The race has invariably been won by a top trainer/jockey combo, so stay away from those representing smaller yards even when their form looks decent.

In these 19 renewals, only three favourites at 11/8, 6/5 and 10/3 have won while two genuine outsiders at 33/1 and 20/1 have also scored. The other 14 winners were at prices ranging from 5/1 to 12/1 with an average SP of around 8/1, so it seems looking at those fancied runners just outside the head of the market is the way to go.

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Past Greatwood Hurdle Winners

18 went to post for the 2018 Greatwood Hurdle, Nicky Henderson’s Elite Hurdle winner from just eight days previously, Verdana Blue, lining up as the 9/2 favourite.

Former winner Old Guard tried to regain his title too, finishing a gallant third in the end, but it was 20/1 outsider Nietzsche who grabbed a valuable win for trainer Brian Ellison after just holding off Silver Streak at the line.

Winning this off a handicap mark of just 126, Nietzsche was never going to be a Champion Hurdle contender, and in the end his trainer decided against taking him to the Festival at all. Here are all the Greatwood winners since the turn of the millennium and how they fared at the subsequent Cheltenham Festival.

Year Winner Age Jockey Trainer Festival Performance
2018 Nietzsche 5 Danny McMenamin Brian Ellison Did not race
2017 Elgin 5 Wayne Hutchinson Alan King 5thin Champion Hurdle
2016 North Hill Harvey 5 Harry Skelton Dan Skelton 16thin County Hurdle
2015 Old Guard 4 Harry Cobden Paul Nicholls Did not race
2014 Garde La Victoire 5 Richard Johnson Philip Hobbs Did not race
2013 Dell’ Arca 4 Tom Scudamore David Pipe 5thin Coral Cup
2012 Olofi 6 Paddy Brennan Tom George 10thin County Hurdle
2011 Brampour 4 Harry Derham Paul Nicholls 7thin Champion Hurdle
2010 Menorah 5 Richard Johnson Philip Hobbs 5thin Champion Hurdle