Staged at Newbury racecourse the Betfair Hurdle is a Grade Three contest run over 2m 1/2f in February each year. First run in 1963, the race is always a hotly-contested race, while some punters might know the even better as either the Tote Gold Trophy or the totesport Trophy, being that’s what the race was called before Betfair took over the sponsorship in 2012.
Despite more obvious Champion Hurdle trials on offer during the season the race has thrown up two horses – Persian War and Make A Stand – that went onto glory at the Cheltenham Festival in the Champion Hurdle later that season, while the 2013 hero - My Tent Or Yours - went onto be second in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.
The 2003 winner, Spirit Leader, went onto land the County Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival the following month, while in 2017 the Nigel Twiston-Davis-trained Ballyandy won the race before running fourth in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. More recently in 2018, Kalashinkov won this before running second in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.
12 months ago, in 2021, we saw the Jonjo O'Neill-trained Soaring Glory landed the prize - their second win in the race after also taking the pot in 2010 with Get Me Out Of Here.
Here at TQ, we look back at recent winners of the race and highlights the key stats ahead of the 2022 renewal – this year staged on Saturday 12th February.
Recent Betfair Hurdle Winners
2021 - SOARING GLORY (17/2)
2020 – PIC D’ORHY (33/1)
2019 - AL DANCER (5/2 fav)
2018 – KALASHINKOV (8/1 co-fav)
2017 – BALLYANDY (3/1 fav)
2016 – AGRAPART (16/1)
2015 – VIOLET DANCER (20/1)
2014 – SPLASH OF GINGE (33/1)
2013 – MY TENT OR YOURS (5/1 fav)
2012 – ZARKANDAR (11/4 fav)
2011 – RECESSION PROOF (12/1)
2010 – GET ME OUT OF HERE (6/1)
2009 – No race
2008 – WINGMAN (14/1)
2007 – HEATHCOTE (50/1)
2006 – No race
2005 – ESSEX (4/1 fav)
2004 – GEOS (16/1)
2003 – SPIRIT LEADER (14/1)
2002 – COPELAND (13/2)
2001 – LANDING LIGHT (4/1 fav)
Betfair Hurdle Betting Trends
19/19 – Carried 11-8 or less in weight
18/19 – Aged 7 or younger
17/19 – Rated 130 or higher
16/19 – Had raced within the last 9 weeks
16/19 – Placed in the top 3 last time out
16/19 – Aged either 5 or 6 years-old
15/19 – Won between 2-4 times over hurdles in the UK/IRE before
15/19 – Came from the first 7 in the betting
15/19 – Went onto run at that season’s Cheltenham Festival
14/19 – Winning distance – 3 lengths or less
13/19 – Placed favourites
11/19 – Carried 10-9 or less in weight
10/19 – Came from the top 5 in the betting
9/19 – Returned a double-figure price in the betting
9/19 – Irish bred
8/19 – Won last time out
8/19 – Aged 5 years-old (including 8 of last 15)
7/19 – Winning favourites
4/19 – Raced at Cheltenham last time out
3/19 – Trained by Nicky Henderson (has won the race 5 times in all)
3/19 – Trained by Gary Moore
2/19 - Trained by Jonjo O’Neill (2 of the last 12)
3/19 – Trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies (3 of the last 8)
2/19 – Trained by Paul Nicholls (2 of the last 10)
2/19 - Raced at Leopardstown last time out
2/19 – Owned by JP McManus
1/19 – Went onto win the County Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival that season (Spirit Leader 2003)
24 of the last 25 winners have been aged 7 or younger
The average winning SP in the last 19 runnings is 14/1
To many horse racing fans February is not everyone’s favourite, but in more recent years my view is changing slightly on this.
I’ve also covered the Haydock Grand National Trial and newly-named Coral Chase in this month’s edition, but let’s not forget there’s a top Newbury mid-month fixture (Sat 12th), that supplies us with many Cheltenham Festival clues, that includes the Denman Chase, Betfair Exchange Chase (Game Spirit) and the Betfair Hurdle – it’s the last-named I’m going to focus on in a bit more detail.
Generally, one of the most competitive handicap hurdles on the calendar, this Grade Three contest is run over 2m 1/2f and is always well-supported by the big National Hunt yards. Backed up in recent years with the Paul Nicholls, Nigel Twiston-Davies and Nicky Henderson stables winning six of the last ten renewals between them - while 12 months ago the Jonjo O’Neill yard grabbed their second success in the race when Soaring Glory took the honours.
What are the other main trends to look for?
Weight – Being a handicap then weight carried, of course, has to be high up on the short list to look at. ALL of the last 19 winners carried 11st 8lbs or less, which will be the bulk of the runners, but we can take this trend a bit further with 11 of the last 19 carrying 10st 9lbs or less. Last year, this was another positive with Soaring Glory having just 10st 7lbs on his back. That said, a small word of caution is advised here as this weight trend could be taking a turn in the other direction. It’s worth pointing out four of the last five winners carried 11st 1lb or more, with 6 of the last 10 also ticking that stat.
Age – In short here, horses aged 7 or younger have dominated this race in recent times – winning 18 of the last 19. In fact, a 5 or 6 year-old has won ALL of the last 15 renewals too, so really these two ages look the ones to focus on. Since 1988, we’ve only seen two winners aged older than 7 years-old – King Credo (1993) and Geos (2000).
Recent Form – With 16 of the last 19 (84%) winners having raced in the last 9 weeks, this is another trend to look for, while that same percentage also finished in the first three in their most recent outing. With 8 of the last 19 (42%) winners having won last time out too this is a fairly high percentage for such a competitive race. In summary here, we are looking for horses that have been on the course in the last few months, that either won last time out or finished in the top three.
Betting – Despite the race being ultra-competitive, it’s generally one the punters have done well in. Yes, in 2020 we saw a 33/1 winner in Pic D’Orhy. However, in the last 19 runnings we’ve seen a decent 7 winning favourites (37%), while 50% of the last 19 winners came from the top five in the betting and 79% hailed from the first seven in the market.
Stables To Note – In the intro I mentioned the Paul Nicholls, Nicky Henderson and Nigel Twiston-Davies yards, who all have a fine recent record in the race. Twiston-Davies has landed three of the last 8 runnings, so is just edging it, but with five overall successes anything the Henderson camp run should also be respected. Nicholls won the race in 2020 and 2012, so will be eager to add more. The other yards to have on your radar is the Gary Moore camp – they’ve won this three times since 2007 and are sure to be firing a few bullets again in 2022 as they also had Fifty Ball, as runner-up in 2021. The Jonjo O’Neill yard are the final stable to respect having taken the race 12 months ago and also back in 2010, with the popular Get Me Out Of Here.
TQ VERDICT: Plenty of big yards in attendance as always here with 14 runners - most with a chance of some sort. 12 months ago we saw the Jonjo O’Neill-trained Soaring Glory win the race - beating Fifty Ball by 3 lengths - and both are back for more. Soaring Glory is, however, now rated 14lbs higher and has to lump 11-12 round, but with ALL of the last 19 winners having 11-8 or less, this is a big negative for last year’s winner. But FIFTY BALL (e/w) - is still off the same mark. Yes, Fifty Ball, for Gary Moore, needs to put a poor recent run at Ascot behind him, but he jumped left that day, which won’t be as big an issue here at Newbury. He’s had another 2 months off to prep for this and so in a race we know he’s gone well in before is worth an interest. The Gary Moore yard, who have a good record in this race (3 wins), also run ROYAUME UNI (e/w) and at a bigger price this 5 year-old could outrun his odds. He’s got 11 lengths to find with First Street, when third to that runner last time out, but get in here with just 10-2 to carry and it’s interesting Jamie Moore rides this one too. Other stables to have done well in this race recently are Nigel Twiston-Davies (I Like To Move It) and Paul Nicholls (Knappers Hill). Jetoile, Bootholl and Tritonic are others to respect, but the two main players here look to be Jpr One and BROOMFIELD BURG. The first named was very impressive at Taunton last time out and clearly has a lot of ability. However, you just wonder what he beat that day and this is a big step up for the Colin Tizzard runner. So, I’m happy to stick with Broomfield Burg, who won by 1 lengths at Kempton on Boxing Day in a Novice Hurdle. Back into a Handicap here but looks on a fair mark and despite only having four runs over hurdles and being a tad inexperienced, is a horse that’s yet to finish out of the first two (two wins).