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 2022 edition due to take place on Sunday 13th.
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.
Nineteen horses featured in the latest 2022 Greatwood Hurdle entries. Bookmakers chalked up three horses as co-favourites at the start of race week; Dads Lad, Sonigino and Thousand Tears. Dads Lad is trained by Willie Mullins and won here over fences at the October meeting. He had finished fifth in a valuable handicap hurdle at Listowel on his previous start and now reverts to the smaller obstacles.
Sonigino seems to have improved out of all recognition for a wind operation in the spring, winning twice at Chepstow already this Autumn. He was particularly impressive last time out when winning easily by 13 lengths for which the handicapper has raised him 10lbs. Thousand Tears represents Grand National winning trainer Emmet Mullins and was last seen finishing ninth behind Dads Lad at Galway in July.
Others to note in the Greatwood Hurdle 2022 runners include Teddy Blue, Gin Coco and Harbour Lake. All three were winners last time out. Gin Coco picked up a novice event at Newton Abbot following an eye-catching second place in a competitive handicap hurdle at Punchestown. Harbour Lake is up 5lbs for winning over an extended two and a half miles at Market Rasen last month. He features in our 2022 Greatwood Hurdle Tips at a rewarding each-way price.
West Cork could attempt to repeat last year’s victory after being well beaten in a novices’ chase at Warwick, although he is 8lbs higher in the handicap. N’golo produced a career-best effort to run away with the valuable Swinton Hurdle at Haydock in May. The grey was rated 129 that day but starts the new season on a mark of 137.
A Different Kind failed by only a short-head to catch Peking Rose on his seasonal reappearance for Donald McCain. He is only 3lbs higher in the Greatwood Hurdle and could be a lively outsider. I Like To Move It was a fine second in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury in February but ran well below form at the Cheltenham Festival. He looks to have a difficult task with 12 stone to carry.
Greatwood Hurdle Tips: Gin Coco & Harbour Lake 2.55 Cheltenham (Sunday 13th November)
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.
Prevailing trends can help you find the winner of big betting races like the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham. Stats are no guarantee of course, but you are more likely to make better informed decisions knowing them. Don’t forget to use Boylesports Cheltenham specials or the likes to increase your benefit and/or reduce risks. Here are some for the Greatwood Hurdle you should know:
Winners of the Greatwood Hurdle can sometimes struggle under a penalty in future handicaps but one notable exception was Rooster Booster in 2002. The popular grey defied 11st 12lbs to win this race before going on to win the 2003 Champion Hurdle for Trainer Philip Hobbs.
2020 winner The Shunter was equally effective over hurdles and fences and would go on to win the Paddy Power Plate Handicap Chase at the 2021 Cheltenham Festival. The gelding was shrewdly placed by Trainer Emmet Mullins, landing a £100,000 bonus by winning the Morebattle Hurdle at Kelso prior to his Cheltenham victory.
The form of the Greatwood Hurdle is often a good guide to the most competitive handicap hurdles for the rest of the National Hunt season. It pays to follow horses that ran well in the race without necessarily featuring in the final places. Last year’s race illustrated this point perfectly by producing a host of future winners.
Tritonic (fifth) won the Betfair Exchange Trophy on his next start and Glory And Fortune (sixth) later collected the valuable Betfair Hurdle at Newbury. The 2021 renewal also produced a subsequent Cheltenham Festival winner in Marie’s Rock (seventh). She won the Grade 1 Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle for Nicky Henderson and Nico de Boinville.
The 2021 Greatwood Hurdle was as competitive as ever with 19 runners lining up to face the starter. Favourites have a poor record in the Greatwood and Noel Meade’s Jesse Evans could not buck the trend, fading from the second last to finish ninth. The JP McManus owned duo of No Ordinary Joe and Camprond both raced prominently but the race developed into a duel between West Cork and Adagio on the run-in.
David Pipe’s Adagio was carrying 11st 12lbs and was trying to concede almost a stone to West Cork. The latter had been off the course for almost two years but Dan Skelton’s horse justified late market support to win by three-quarters of a length. Tritonic (fifth), Glory And Fortune (sixth) and Marie’s Rock (seventh) would all go on to win major races later in the season.
2021 Greatwood Hurdle Result
🥇 1st West Cork 11-1
🥈2nd Adagio 11-1
🥉3rd No Ordinary Joe 8-1
🏅 4th Camprond 17-2
🐎 19 ran
👨🏻💼 Winning Trainer; Dan Skelton
🏇🏼 Winning Jockey: Harry Skelton
The Shunter, one of the Irish raiders in the 2020 Greatwood Hurdle, landed a gamble on rain softened ground. After being bigger prices the night before and opening at 10/1, the money was down Emmet Mullins’ charge as he was backed into a 13/2 chance off bottom weight. Robbie Power looked to be in trouble aboard this horse at one stage when he lost ground at the third last, but he soon rallied and led on the run-in before pulling clear up the Cheltenham hill. At the line, The Shunter was a comfortable three-length victor over topweight Ballyandy, who once again ran a mighty race under a welter burden for father-son team Sam and Nigel Twiston-Davies at 8/1.
They finished just ahead of the 4/1 favourite Tegerek from the Jonjo O’Neill stable, who was in turn another three lengths clear of Olly Murphy trained veteran Hunters Call in fourth at 16/1. Ante post favourite Edwardstone (returned at a 13/2 starting price) kept on into fifth for Alan King, but stable companion and previous Greatwood Hurdle winner Harambe came to grief when still in with a chance at the last. That hampered Paul Nicholls’ 9/1 hope Sir Psycho. While 10 of the 14-runner field (17 were declared, but three horses pulled out because of the going) finished the race, 5/1 second-favourite Proschema was one of three to pull-up with his chance blunted by the testing ground.
Harambe took a big step forward from his disappointing return to action when seventh in the Persian War at Chepstow by getting compensation in the Greatwood Hurdle. Tom Bellamy was back aboard him for the first time in almost a year and held him up towards the rear. Harambe, returned at odds of 16/1 was fourth jumping the last but ran on superbly up the famous Cheltenham hill and came with a late swoop, just touching off the rallying 9/1 chance Gumball from the Philip Hobbs stable by a neck. This gave trainer Alan King a second winner of the Greatwood Hurdle in the space of three seasons.
It was a further neck back to Monsieur Lecoq (9/1) for mother-daughter duo Jane Williams and Lizzie Kelly in third, while Welsh raider Quoi De Neuf (7/1) was behind in fourth for trainer Evan Williams and Adam Wedge. Nicky Henderson’s JP McManus owned mare, Dame De Compagnie (6/1) ran an eye-catching fifth but may need further than the extended two-mile trip of the Greatwood Hurdle. Benny’s Bridge, the 9/2 favourite, was never travelling and finished well down the field.
Harvey Mayson has worked as a horseracing writer, blogger and tipster for several of the UK’s leading bookmakers and numerous other specialist racing sites. Harvey has great knowledge of horse racing history and was the author of the Paddy Power Cheltenham Festival and Aintree Grand National blog for three years. Harvey’s blog at the Cheltenham Festival in 2014 included a 100,000-1 ante-post four-timer while he correctly forecast the first four winners on Grand National day in 2015. He also tipped three Grand National winners in a row and eleven consecutive winning nap selections.