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The Morgiana Hurdle, now a Grade 1 event, is a two-mile hurdle race run each year at Punchestown. The race is often used as an early prep for both the Cheltenham and Punchestown festivals. The 2019 renewal will be on Sunday 17th November, the same day as another important two-mile trial, the Greatwood over at Cheltenham.
The Morgiana is the first Grade 1 race of the season in Ireland, an event that was first run over 2½ miles but one that at its shorter distance has produced a number of high-profile Champion Hurdle contenders which makes it a very important one not just for connections of the runners, but also for bettors too.
Since the year 2000 alone, the Morgiana has produced three Cheltenham Festival winners in the shape of Brave Inca and Hurricane Fly, both in the Champion Hurdle, and Nichols Canyon in the Stayers’.
2019 Morgiana Hurdle Key Runners
There could be a small but select field for this year’s Morgiana with just 11 declared early.
|Apple’s Jade||7||TBC||Gordon Elliott|
|Benie Des Dieux||8||TBC||Willie Mullins|
|Effernock Fizz||4||TBC||Katy Brown|
|Klassical Dream||5||TBC||Willie Mullins|
2019 Morgiana Top Tips
As well as the obvious matter of who eventually turns up for the race, at this early stage we have the spectre of not knowing how soft the ground at Punchestown will be and that’ll be a chief concern when the final field is known.
At the point of the early entries Willie Mullins, unsurprisingly, has a stranglehold on the race and will presumably be able to declare the horse(s) he feels has the best chance so that’s somewhat of a tip in itself, but he perhaps doesn’t even have the no.1 contender based on ratings at this point as that comes arguably in the shape of Gordon Elliott’s Apple’s Jade.
The admirable 7-year-old mare is a 14-time winner over hurdles and has put in her best work over a range of distances, so she also goes down as probably the most versatile of this bunch. She is officially rated 162, just a pound behind last year’s winner Sharjah, but of course receives a 7lbs allowance which if she’s on form makes her pretty well-in.
Sharjah slammed Faugheen in this event last year in what was his standout career performance to date and, while it seemed a genuine effort, he hasn’t reached those heights since and it was a tactical four-runner event on that occasion. The likely odds-on favourite when prices are announced by all firms will be Mullins’ 5-year-old Klassical Dream, a winner of each of his last four races including the Supreme Novices’ at Cheltenham and the Champion Novice Hurdle at Punchestown.
It goes without saying that he will improve and will be the name on many people’s lips for the Champion Hurdle, but while he is bound to get better as the season goes on, he’s probably not the value call here at the weights.
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Morgiana Hurdle Stats & Trends
10 of the last 19 winners have gone off as favourite, often at a very short price, meaning the Morgiana hasn’t exactly been a race to make the punters rich. Favourites have gone off at a maximum of 5/4f, but also as short as 1/16.
Never has Willie Mullins’ domination of Irish jumps racing been highlighted more than in this race, the trainer having won all of the last 8 runnings, so whenever he has a fancied runner, punters must absolutely take note.
Age is not a factor we can reliably use, especially given that numerous horses have been able to win this race multiple times, so naturally they are getting older each time they take part
Lastly, although three of these winners have gone on to be stayers, 11 of them went on to race in the Champion Hurdle so look out for any horses being targeted at that race the following March.
Past Morgiana Hurdle Winners
The 2018 running of the Morgiana Hurdle was once again dominated by champion Irish jumps trainer Willie Mullins, the master handler declaring three of the 4 runners in the field.
Previous winner Faugheen was sent off 2/5 favourite with top jockey Ruby Walsh on board, but he was put in his place by the stable second-string Sharjah under Paul Townend. The pair travelled into the race nicely and hit the front full of running at the final flight, stretching away to score easily in the end by 7½ lengths.
Faugheen could only plod on for second place with Gordon Elliott’s Tombstone in third and Mullins’ third runner, Wicklow Brave, back in fourth.
This is how Morgiana winners have done at Cheltenham since the year 2000, though in some cases the race has been used as a prep for the Punchestown Festival instead:
|2018||Sharjah||5||Paul Townend||Willie Mullins||Brought down in Champion Hurdle|
|2017||Faugheen||9||Paul Townend||Willie Mullins||6th in Champion Hurdle|
|2016||Nichols Canyon||6||Ruby Walsh||Willie Mullins||1st in Stayers’ Hurdle|
|2015||Nichols Canyon||5||David Mullins||Willie Mullins||3rd in Champion Hurdle|
|2014||Hurricane Fly||10||Ruby Walsh||Willie Mullins||3rd in Champion Hurdle|
|2013||Hurricane Fly||9||Ruby Walsh||Willie Mullins||4th in Champion Hurdle|
|2012||Hurricane Fly||8||Ruby Walsh||Willie Mullins||1st in Champion Hurdle|
|2011||Thousand Stars||7||Ruby Walsh||Willie Mullins||4th in World Hurdle|
|2010||Solwhit||6||Davy Russell||Charles Byrnes||Did not race|