International Hurdle Tips – Rising Star Can Land Honours at Cheltenham in December

Runners fly over the hurlde at last season's Cheltenham Festival

Runners fly over the hurlde at last season’s Cheltenham Festival

Cheltenham International Hurdle Preview

The Grade 2 International Hurdle over an extended two miles at Cheltenham in December is a significant trial for the Champion Hurdle. There have been three three-time winners of the International Hurdle; Birds Nest (1977, 1978, 1980), Relkeel (1997, 1998, 1999) and The New One (2013, 2014, 2016). The last horse to win the International and the Champion Hurdle in the same season was Rooster Booster (2002-2003).

Cheltenham International Hurdle Betting Trends

Favourites have a good record in this race with six victories in the past ten renewals. Shock results are rare with Khyber Kim (2009) being the last horse to return at a double-figure price. Horses aged five to seven have the best recent record. Nicky Henderson has won the race a record six times, most recently with Call Me Lord in 2019. 

Cheltenham International Hurdle form guide

This race sees the eagerly awaited reappearance of Goshen, so unfortunate to unseat Jamie Moore at the final flight in the Triumph Hurdle. Gary Moore’s son of Authorized was ten lengths clear at the time and connections immediately turned their attention to the 2021 Champion Hurdle.

The only negative associated with Goshen is the fact that he has failed to sparkle in a couple of races on the flat recently. He was expected to exploit a lenient handicap mark at Haydock in September but finished last behind Stargazer. He then finished third to Natural History at Goodwood the following month. Moore has taken him out of a couple of previous engagements over hurdles but has been much happier with his recent work.

Last season’s Champion Hurdle form is represented by Silver Streak (sixth), Ballyandy (eighth) and Call Me Lord (thirteenth). Silver Streak beat Verdana Blue by six lengths at Kempton in October and was expected to give Epatante a race in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle. Unfortunately the grey was carried out by the loose Not So Sleepy at the second flight.

Nicky Henderson’s Verdana Blue ran a couple of fine races on the flat last summer, finishing in the frame at Royal Ascot and in the Ebor Handicap at York. The mare has since been beaten by Silver Streak and by Mrs Hyde at Wetherby. She is not a certain runner but could be dangerous with her weight allowance if allowed to take her chance. Stable companion Call Me Lord bids for a repeat win in this race but has been defeated in all four subsequent starts. Last time out he found Song For Someone five lengths too good over two and a half miles. 

Ballyandy maintains a high level of form at the age of nine, most recently carrying 11st 12lbs into second place behind The Shunter in the Greatwood Hurdle. He had been readily outpaced by Sceau Royal in the Welsh Champion Hurdle on his previous outing. Sceau Royal is a high class two-mile chaser but has been a revelation back over hurdles since a wind operation in August. He was no match for Epatante at Newcastle on his favoured good ground last time.

Song For Someone made all the running to beat Call Me Lord at Ascot and similar tactics could be adopted over this shorter trip. Summerville Boy beat Ch’tibello by half a length at Aintree last month with Call Me Lord back in fourth place. All three were having their first run of the season.

Cheltenham International Hurdle Tips

The International Hurdle is due off at 3.00 on Saturday 12th December, one of five races on the Cheltenham card to be shown live on ITV4. The jury is out on Goshen after his defeats on the flat and preference is for the consistent Song For Someone at more than double the odds. If the ground dries out, Sceau Royal and Verdana Blue could also come into the equation