World Hurdle

2015 World Hurdle Result

World Hurdle Winner Cole Harden Earns Warren Greatrex Maiden Cheltenham Festival Victory

Trainer Warren Greatrex celebrated his first Cheltenham Festival winner as with 14/1 outsider Cole Harden beating off a host of fancied rivals to land the 2015 World Hurdle.

The mount of Gavin Sheehan made all of the running in the Grade 1 championship race and held on under intense pressure all around him. Cole Harden's advantage was reduced at the seventh flight, but the 6-year-old was ridden clear at the final hurdle to finish 3 and a quarter lengths ahead of the Paul Nicholls-trained 5/1 favourite Saphir Du Rheu, with stablemate and 7/1 chance, Zarkandar finishing an unlucky third.

The latter was in cruise control heading into the business end, but was delayed significantly by a blunder two from home, rider Noel Fehily doing well to address the situation and hold off AP McCoy aboard At Fishers Cross. The incident also hampered the threatening Blue Fashion who ended up well down the field, while Reve De Sivola weakened dramatically despite challenging the eventual winner before the final two jumps.

A Brief Intro To The World Hurdle

The World Hurdle is the feature race of the penultimate day of March's Cheltenham Festival. This Grade 1 National Hunt hurdle race takes place on the New Course at Cheltenham Racecourse and is open to horses aged four years and over.

It is the leading long-distance hurdle event in the National Hunt calendar, requiring horses to race over an arduous distance of three miles (4,828m) and jump 12 hurdles, before a punishing uphill finish.

The overall purse for the race is over £250,000, with the winning horse receiving in excess of £150,000. Given the prestige of the race and the significant financial rewards, the race is always fiercely contested by a high-quality field.

The race has been dominated by Big Buck’s in recent years - after romping to a record haul of four World Hurdle titles between 2009-2012 - although, injury prevented him taking part in 2013 and he was retired after the 2014 running, won by More of That.

Cheltenham Racecourse generates gate revenues of £7 million over the four-day Cheltenham Festival, with a significant influx of Irish spectators enjoying the performances of the Irish-trained horses.

Over 200,000 pints of Guinness are consumed at the Festival - which also provides major retail opportunities for spectators - and around £1 million is bet on-site on each race.

History Of The World Hurdle

The race was introduced to the festival in 1972, replacing an earlier race known as the Spa Hurdle.

Initially, the World Hurdle was known as the Stayers’ Hurdle - reflecting its long distance - before its current name was introduced in 2005, when bookmaker Ladbrokes took over the race sponsorship from Bonusprint.

The testing nature of this race is demonstrated in the lack of repeat winners during its early years. It was not until 1988 that Galmoy - ridden by Tommy Carmody - became the first to win two consecutive World Hurdle races. This feat was then repeated some years later by imperious French horse Baracouda - ridden by Thierry Doumen - in 2002 and 2003.

Inglis Drever became the first triple winner in 2008 - after being ridden to victory by jockeys Graham Lee (2005), Paddy Brennan (2007) and Denis O’Regan (2008). The Howard Johnson-trained champion won 17 races from 35 starts and generated nearly £800,000 in prize money.

Unfortunately, he died not long after retiring with a leg injury - after suffering a bout of Colic. With a terrific racing career that saw him become the first horse to win the Order of Merit, Inglis Drever’s early death at the age of 10 saddened the racing world - dashing plans for a contented retirement at owner Graham Wylie’s Chesters Stud in Hexham.

The profile of the World Hurdle has increased significantly recently, with the successive wins of superstar hurdler Big Buck’s - ridden by Ruby Walsh and trained by Paul Nicholls.

His first win of the World Hurdle took place at the 2009 Cheltenham Festival, before he returned as favourite to defend his title a year later. Despite the gallant efforts of runner-up Time for Rupert - who led by half a length at the last - Big Buck’s eased clear for a win by three-and-a-half lengths.

Trainer Paul Nicholls commented afterwards: “He didn’t work very well and it made me a bit nervous. He’s a bit like Denman and never shows it at home, but we know he is best if he is slightly fresh.

"If this one hadn’t come in, I’d have been very disappointed."

Another tremendous hurdling performance in 2011 saw Big Buck's win the World Hurdle for a third successive year, with an impressive display that put him in the Cheltenham history books.

Ruby Walsh dropped his whip before the final obstacle, but Big Buck’s still managed to triumph - despite what Walsh described as a “Schoolboy error” from him.

Walsh also freely admitted that the 11/10 favourite had “Got me out of jail” in passing the winning post one-and-a-quarter lengths ahead of Grand Crus, with Mourad coming in third.

2014 World Hurdle Result

No Swan Song For Big Buck's As Jonjo O'Neill Gets More Of That World Hurdle Buzz

10 years on from their success with Iris's Gift in 2004, the jockey-trainer partnership of Barry Geraghty and Jonjo O'Neill were celebrating a second World Hurdle success with 15/2 chance More of That fending off 11/8 favourite Annie Power.

More Of That was positioned off the pace by Geraghty with Ruby Walsh employing similar tactics aboard the market leader, but it was the former who made the first move three flights from home. Walsh switched to the outside at the penultimate hurdle, while More of That was being driven to take the lead at the last and stayed in command up the hill with Annie Power not able to close the gap, 1 and a half lengths behind.

9/1 shot At Fishers Cross had been in front briefly between the final two flights, but AP McCoy's mount faded on the run in to finish 5 lengths behind the runner-up, while 14/1 outsider Zarkandar never troubled the leaders in fourth place.

Four-time World Hurdle winner Big Buck's had to settle for a modest placing in mid division and was retired immediately after the race by trainer Paul Nicholls.

Having beaten a highly rated sort in Annie Power, More of That made a satisfactory return in the bet365 Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury and is at the head of ante-post betting for the 2015 World Hurdle. 

2013 World Hurdle Result

Solwhit Provides Ireland With A First World Hurdle Win Since 1995

With the absence of four-time World Hurdle winner Big Bucks due to injury, the 2013 renewal had a much more open look to it.

The Nicky Henderson-trained Oscar Whisky - who appeared to have his stamina limitations exposed the previous year - sent off the 9/4 favourite in the hands of Barry Geraghty. However, the eight-year-old was never travelling, eventually being pulled up going to the last. 

A major shock looked on the cards, when the seemingly exposed 40/1 chance Celestial Halo took up the running going to the final hurdle. Although, the mount of Daryl Jacob blundered - allowing the high-class Irish challenger Solwhit to take advatage.

As well as proving his suspect stamina, Solwhit showed far too much speed for the opposition - quickening up the hill for a convincing victory at odds of 17/2 for Paul Carberry.

This was the first success in the race for the Emerald Isle since Dorans Pride in 1995 and the Charles Byrnes-trained 10-year-old is sure to put up a strong defence of his title in 2014.

2012 World Hurdle Result

Big Buck's Makes History With Fourth Successive World Hurdle Win

The winner of the 2012 World Hurdle was once again Big Buck’s - ridden yet again by celebrated jockey Ruby Walsh - whose run of four successive wins made World Hurdle history.

This record-beating horse battled to win by one-and-three-quarters lengths from Irish rival Voler La Vedette, with Smad Place coming in for third place some seven lengths behind.

The result was not a foregone conclusion, despite the odds of 5/6 for this popular horse - as Voler La Vedette made Big Buck’s work hard for his win, with the two horses switching positions on the run to the final flight.

In the end, Big Buck’s showed his immense quality by beating his nearest competitor in an exciting finish.

Trainer Paul Nicholls was delighted and somewhat relieved, saying: “He had to fight today, but he just keeps galloping. He’s wonderful.

"He’s an awesome horse. The tactics were executed to perfection and it was a great ride from Ruby."

Owner Andy Stewart was also fulsome in his praise and said: “The only person who is more important in the Stewart family is my wife. Big Buck’s has changed our lives."