Morgiana Hurdle Date is Saturday, 14 November 2020
Type: Grade 1 National Hunt Hurdle Race
Age Of The Horses: For Four Year Olds And Up
Distance: 2 Miles & 110 Yards
Winner 2019: Saldier
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 2020 renewal will be on Saturday 14th 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’.
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2020 Morgiana Hurdle Runners & Favourites
2020 Morgiana Hurdle entries have not been revealed as yet. We’ll update this page as soon as any info is available – don’t forget to check back later. As of now, there are two Willie Mullins’s horses that are very likely to run.
Given trainer Willie Mullins’s superb recent record and that three of his last five Morgiana Hurdle winners have been five-year-olds, Saint Roi is obvious interest. Leading Irish owner JP McManus has had four seconds and three thirds in this race in the last 20 years but, if this talented young horse of his is engaged at Punchestown, he would have strong claims of winning it. A typical French import to the Mullins stable from Guy Cherel, Saint Roi has won all three of his starts in 2020.
After breaking his maiden tag emphatically at Tramore on New Year’s Day on the same card that Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo ran, the five-year-old matched his stable companion again during the Festival. Mullins and McManus had no hesitation pitching Saint Roi straight into Grade 3 handicap company for the County Hurdle. He justified favouritism there with a 4½ lengths victory over Aramon, who has advertised the form and then some since.
Saint Roi made a winning reappearance under a penalty in Grade 3 company at Tipperary. He was expected to do that when sent off odds-on and did so by 5½ easy lengths. The Morgiana Hurdle demands more, but there is tons of scope for further progress and he looks well worth a crack at the highest level with Saint Roi being trained as a Champion Hurdle contender.
German import Aramon has taken time to mature at Clossuton, but also has claims of enhancing Mullins’ magnificent record in the race. A Grade 1 winning novice hurdler, he seemed to lose his way a bit last season only to bounce right back to form when dropped into handicap company at the Cheltenham Festival. Tasked with giving 13lb to Saint Roi in the County Hurdle, Aramon was best of the rest in-behind his stable companion. They will meet off level weights if re-opposing here.
That swing in weight arguably tips the scales in his favour. The seven-year-old gelding by Monsun has thrived over the summer, winning a Grade 3 at Tipperary and defying top-weight in the ultra-competitive Galway Hurdle. Aramon has to prove himself once again at the highest level, but his decisive victory in Ireland’s hottest Grade A handicap under a welter burden shows he definitely has something to offer. The Morgiana is the next logical step for him after Galway.
Morgiana Hurdle 2019 Results
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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.
What can statistics about the Morgiana Hurdle reveal to bettors about where value bets lie? Trends aren’t the be all and end all with big horse races like this, but it is better to know them than not. Here are some key stats that you should know:
- Most successful horses – Hurricane Fly and Limestone Lad have both won the race a joint record three times. Four other horses have landed the spoils twice: Nicholls Canyon, Solwhit, Cockney Lad and Grabel.
- Leading trainer – Willie Mullins has absolutely dominated the Morgiana Hurdle, winning it in every year since 2011 and ten times overall. Anything sent out from his Closutton stables in this race should be taken very seriously, although he does often run more than once horse.
- Leading jockey – Paul Carberry holds the outright record for most wins with six, ahead of Ruby Walsh on five. The active jockeys who have won this more than once are Paul Townend with two victories in the last three years and Davy Russell who last rode the winner in 2010.
- Leading owners – Rich and Susannah Ricci have teamed up with Mullins in each of the last three years to have the Morgiana winner. Those recent successes match George Creighton and Rose Boyd who owned Hurricane Fly, and Limestone Lad owner James Bowe.
- Favourites – Ten winners since 2000 have been market leaders. That means the favourite in the Morgiana Hurdle has a 50 per cent strike rate this century. Bookmakers tend to make the leading fancy a short price in this race to with odds ranging from 5/4 down to 1/16.
- Age – Despite six multiple winners of the Morgiana down the years, an age profile is starting to emerge from recent years. Three of the last five winners, all trained by Mullins, have been five-year-olds. Unless there is a previous victor in the line-up, it pays to concentrate on younger hurdlers aged five, six and seven as these account for 69 per cent (22 out of 32) of winners.
- 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
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:
What happened in 2019?
Saldier made a winning return to action after more than a year out and extended trainer Willie Mullins’s record in the Morgiana Hurdle to 10 victories. Not seen since falling at the last when tackling ill-fated subsequent Champion Hurdle hero Espoir D’Allen in a Grade 3 at Naas, the Rich and Susannah Ricci owned five-year-old was only supposedly third best of the stable, according to bookmakers who returned him at odds of 7/1. However, Saldier retained plenty of scope for further progress and made plenty of that here.
After chasing the leaders and disputing third spot in the hands of Danny Mullins, he wasn’t fluent four and three flights from home but soon came under a drive. Saldier improved on the outside with a clear sight of the obstacles and led with a much better jump at the last. He only needed riding clear on the run-in as odds-on stable companion Klassical Dream faded to be third for a 1½ lengths victory over 16/1 shot Petit Mouchoir. The third Mullins runner, Sharjah, was back in fourth at 7/2.
What Happened in 2018?
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.