By staging both the Ryanair Chase and the World Hurdle on the Thursday of the Festival, organisers have ensured that day three lacks nothing in prestige, despite not staging one of the three blue riband events.
In fact, the World Hurdle has taken on increased significance in its own right in recent years, thanks mainly to the exploits of the great French champion, Baracouda, who won the race twice and then finished second twice, three-time winner Inglis Drever and Big Buck's, who was completing a remarkable four-time in 2012. They have set the standard by which all great staying hurdlers will be measured.
The recent resurgence that the race is enjoying is, perhaps, no coincidence. The trend towards better ground at the Festival has meant that the event has become less of a slog and has enabled the classier horses to dominate. Not since Anzum, in 1999, have we seen a double figure price winner of the race.
2017 Nichols Canyon 10/1
2015 Cole Harden
2014 More Of That
2012 Big Buck's
2011 Big Buck's
2010 Big Buck's
2009 Big Buck's
2008 Inglis Drever
2007 Inglis Drever
2006 My Way De Solzen
2005 Inglis Drever
2004 Iris’s Gift
1995 Dorans Pride
1993 Shuil Ar Aghaidh
1992 Nomadic Way
1991 King’s Curate
1990 Trapper John
(prior winners detailed at bottom of page)
1. The World Hurdle is one of the youngest races at The Festival. Known as the Stayers’ Hurdle up to and including 2004, it was only introduced with its current race conditions in 1972. Before that, it was known as the Spa Hurdle.
2. The World Hurdle has been run on the Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of the meeting. It moved to its current Thursday slot in 1993.
3. Its first year of sponsorship was 1972, under the title of the Lloyds Bank Hurdle. There have been four sponsors of the race, Waterford Crystal from 1978 to 1990 and Bonusprint from 1991 to 2004. 2005 was the first year of Ladbrokes sponsorship and prize money currently stands at £275,000.
4. The World Hurdle used to be a favourite with the Irish, who have won it nine times, most recently in 1995 with Dorans Pride. Baracouda provided a first success for France in 2002 and followed up in 2003. In 2004 and 2005, he was runner-up behind Iris’s Gift and Inglis Drever respectively, while in 2006 he ran fifth behind My Way De Solzen. Baracouda’s trainer Francois Doumen also saddled Kasbah Bliss to finish second in 2008 and fourth in 2009.
5. In 2008, Inglis Drever created history by becoming the first horse to win the contest three times. He was successful in 2005, missed the 2006 race due to injury before returning to land both the 2007 and 2008 renewals. He's since been eclipsed by the almost legendary Big Buck's, who made it four wins on the bounce in 2012. There have been three dual winners - Crimson Embers (1982 & 1986), Galmoy (1987 & 1988) and Baracouda (2002 & 2003).
6. Thanks to Big Buck's, Paul Nicholls is the only trainer to have won the race four times, while Howard Johnson (trainer of Inglis Drever) and the late Fulke Walwyn had three wins apiece. The race was dominated in the mid-1980s by Crimson Embers, trained by Walwyn, and the winner in 1982 and 1986. Indeed, Crimson Embers would have been awarded the race in the stewards’ room in 1985 had his rider not declined to give evidence to the enquiry afterwards, but the trainer won the race anyway with Rose Ravine. The owner, Sally Smart, was ambivalent about the result - she owned both horses!
7. Gaye Chance, the winner in 1984, was a full-brother to the 1983 Champion Hurdle winner Gaye Brief. Both horses were trained by Mercy Rimell.
8. A total of 13 favourites have been successful.
9. The smallest field to go to post was eight in 1973 while the largest was 22 in both 1985 and 1990. The current safety limit is 24.
10. Tommy Carberry, Stuart Shilston, Tommy Carmody, Mark Perrett, Charlie Swan, Jamie Osborne and Thierry Doumen each recorded two victories, while Ruby Walsh is the only current jockey to have partnered more than one winner following his four victories on Big Buck’s (2009-12). The three-time winner Inglis Drever was partnered by different jockeys for each of his victories – Graham Lee (2005), Paddy Brennan (2007) and Denis O’Regan (2008).
2012 World Hurdle Review
It was a case of 'same again' for the brilliant BIG BUCK'S who shrugged off his 11 rivals with typical contempt, making it four wins on the bounce and taking his unbeaten run to sixteen in the process - he's since won twice more before injury sadly ruled him out for the rest of the 2012-13 season.
His customary 'flat spot' never really materialised and despite edging right on the flat, Paul Nicholls' star performer never looked like being beaten, holding off the challenge of Irish mare Voler La Vedette (20/1) by a comfortable-looking length and a three quarters.
Smad Place (20/1) outran his odds to finish third, albeit seven lengths behind the runner-up, with Thousand Stars in fourth. Oscar Whisky, who had travelled well throughout the race and looked a threat between the last two, failed to get home and had to settle for fifth spot.
2011 World Hurdle Review
Sensational hurdler BIG BUCK'S won his third consecutive Ladbrokes World Hurdle in fantastic style at the 2011 Cheltenham Festival.
Paul Nicholls' eight-year-old was sent off an odds-on shot and Ruby Walsh delivered for them once again by one-and-three-quarter-lengths from Grands Crus (7-2). It meant Big Buck's maintained his unbeaten record over the smaller obstacles in a thrilling showdown to the famous race.
Tom Scudamore looked to be travelling well approaching the final flight but the champion found more to the delight of a packed Prestbury Park. Mourad (8-1) was best of the rest and managed to finished in third for Ireland.
2010 World Hurdle Review
By claiming back to back victories here in the World Hurdle, BIG BUCKS is now surely well on the way to establishing himself as the greatest staying hurdler of all time...and the victory was never in doubt.
Paul Nicholls seven year old simply powered through the race and cruised onto the tail of the leader, Time For Rupert, approaching the last. A poor jump at that final flight briefly put Big Bucks on the back foot, but Ruby Walsh merely had to gather his mount and shake the reins at him for him to brush the runner up aside and quickly put the race to bed.
The fact that the winner had his ears pricked for much of the last hundred yards told you everything you needed to know about how facile this success was. A hat-trick of wins next season looks a formality.
Time For Rupert ran a blinder in second and was the only one to give the favourite a race. In any other year he would have been a worthy winner, but connections have already seen enough of Big Bucks and are likely to switch the runner up to fences next season, when the RSA Chase will surely be the target.
Powerstation has an enviable record at the Festival, having been here four times and finished runner-up in the Brit Novices Hurdle and Coral Cup in 2006/7 and third in this race two years in succession. He stayed on again without being a match for the first two.
Karabak also runs well here and plugged on for fourth. He tends to hit a flat spot in his races, which doesn't help in contests as competitive as this.
Rank outsiders Ebadiyan and Oscar Dan Dan filled the next two places. The former was in the firing line for much of the contest and did well to cling on to fifth on his first start at this trip. The fact that he stayed so well has opened up more options for his connections.
By contrast, Oscar Dan Dan was left plenty to do and was a never nearer sixth. He would probably have preferred a bit of cut in the ground.
Of the rest, Cousin Vinny (eighth) didn't hurdle with any real fluency on his return to the smaller obstacles, Tidal Bay (seventh) and Lie Forrit (ninth) probably needed softer ground and Sentry Duty (pulled up) didnt appear to stay.
The 2006 Gold Cup winner, War Of Attrition, seemed to enjoy himself and ran well for a long way before fading and being allowed to coast home in his own time.
2009 World Hurdle Review
This division has undergone a remarkable revival in recent seasons as, in the likes of Baracouda, Inglis Drever and Iris Gift, we’ve been able to enjoy some of the greatest staying hurdles in living memory.
And now there may be a new name to add to that impressive list as BIG BUCK’S appears to have all of the weapons necessary to dominate this race for the next few years.
It is amazing to think that he started the season unseating Sam Thomas at the last when a well backed favourite for the Hennessy. At that time, the Gold Cup looked to be his most likely Cheltenham target, but since being switched to hurdles he has been a revelation and it is hard to see any reason why connections would put him back over fences.
Like many of the best stayers, he tends to hit a flat spot in his races and turning for home Ruby Walsh was pushing and shoving along. However, once he hit the front, halfway up the run in, he surged clear of Punchestowns to record an impressive success.
Had he not fluffed the last, the victory margin would surely have been greater and given that he is only six this was some performance.
The runner up is also a top three miler, but with Big Buck’s set to stay over hurdles, Punchestowns will surely switch to fences next season as, well though he ran in defeat, there seems no obvious reason why he should be able to turn the tables on the winner next year, having also been decisively beaten by him in the Cleeve Hurdle here in January.
That said, if Big Buck’s hadn’t been in the field, he would have run out a wide margin winner and he remains a very exciting prospect indeed.
There was a mile back to the third Powerstation, which simply underlined the quality of the front two.
Powerstation has run well at the Festival before and clearly relishes the stiff uphill finish as he has endless stamina. However, he lacks the gears of the very best stayers and this is as good as he is.
Amazingly, Kasbah Bliss was backed into odds on favouritism, on the back of his second to Inglis Drever in this contest last year and his outstanding form in stayers races on the Flat over the summer. However, having closed stylishly on the leaders three out, he emptied quickly and appeared a non stayer.
Mighty Man ran a huge race in fifth given that he has been off the course since breaking down at the Punchestown Festival in 2007. Connections will now be praying they can keep him sound as he clearly retains plenty of his old ability and he is likely to take the winner on again at his beloved Aintree next time out.
Whatuthink belied his odds of 100-1 to finish a creditable sixth, albeit a long way behind the winner. The first time blinkers obviously suited him.
2008 World Hurdle Review
Not a dry eye in the house as the brilliant INGLIS DREVER secured his place in the history books with his third straight win, confirming himself in the process as one of the all time greats in the staying division.
And once again this warrior of a horse did it the hard way as, in traditional Inglis Drever style, he was under pressure, and apparently struggling, as the field began the run downhill for the final time. However, those who had witnessed his previous successes in this race knew there was no need to panic and by the time the leaders turned for home he was traveling as well as anything.
He jumped the last only fractionally behind the eventual runner up Kasbah Bliss, who ironically is trained by Francois Doumen who also trained Baracouda, the horse whose record Inglis Drever was bidding to beat here.
The two locked horns all the way to the line, but once Inglis Drever had got his head in front on the run in the result was never in doubt.
Kasbah Bliss ran a cracker to finish second, well clear of the rest. He is sure to be back for another shot at this race next year and, as a six year old, he clearly has time on his side.
Kazal probably put up his best effort yet in finishing third. He was simply outstayed by front two after the last, but was traveling as well as anything approaching the penultimate flight.
Blazing Bailey, in fourth, could never quite get into the race, although he was staying on better than anything at the death. He was placed in the race last year, but just seems to lack the pace needed to win this championship event.
My Way De Solzen seems to have appreciated the switch back to hurdles, but despite a decent enough effort here it is hard not to feel that he is a shadow of the horse that was so exciting when winning last year’s Arkle.
The effort of Chief Dan George (seventh) hinted at a possible return to form, whilst Wichita Lineman (ninth) is another who appears to lack the natural speed necessary to compete with the best, even over this marathon trip. The performances of both this season have provided further evidence that horses who run well in the Albert Bartlett don’t often train on over hurdles.
Former Champion Hurdler, Hardy Eustace, was prominent for much of the race but appeared not to stay and was eased when beaten.
2007 World Hurdle Review
An emotional victory and one to warn the hearts of all true national hunt enthusiasts as the 2005 champion INGLIS DREVER recaptured his crown in typically game fashion after missing all of last season through injury.
As is his custom, the winner needed to be niggled along by his rider, Paddy Brennan, from a long way out and he was actually under maximum pressure at the top of the hill, but he found some momentum on the downhill stretch of the course and picked up turning for home before staying on gamely to hold off Mighty Man and Blazing Bailey. Although there was less than a length in it at the line Inglis Drever was idling in front and he looked like he’d find more if needed.
His win here was achieved in similar style to that in 2005 when he defeated the great Baracouda. On this evidence, he may in time be recognised as being as good as that great French raider.
Mighty Man was third last year and second here. He would have been an impressive winner if you took Inglis Drever out of the race and is a top class stayer in his own right. He loves decent ground and is even better on a flat track like Aintree, where compensation may await.
Blazing Bailey ran another good race to confirm himself the best young stayer around. A five year old has never won this event, so he ran very respectably given that statistic. He is very tough and genuine, but may prefer slightly easier going.
The same is true of the mare United who just lacked the speed to be competitive on this ground, in this company. However, this was her best effort yet and there are plenty more big races to be won with her.
The big disappointment of the race was undoubtedly the early fall of the hot favourite, Black Jack Ketchum. He took a horrible fall at the third, and the huge crowd held its breath waiting to see if he would get up okay. Thankfully he did, and he seemed none the worse for the incident as he galloped loose. He was on a retrieval mission here after his flop in the Cleeve Hurdle and we’ll now have to wait for Aintree to see if he really is as good as we all thought this time last year.
2006 World Hurdle Review
The feature race of day three, the Ladbroke World Hurdle, was won in thrilling fashion by MY WAY DE SOLZEN.
A huge field had gone to post in search of the £131,000 first prize, but at the business end of the race there were only really five horses in contention.
My Way De Solzen has improved immensely this year for the step up in trip, but he was expected to need softer ground to be able to live with the very best over this distance. Instead, he put up the performance of his life on going which was being dried out all the time by a chilling wind.
He was travelling better than anything turning for home and powered clear of his main rivals approaching the last. However, either through tiredness or lack of company upfront, he idled on the run-in, drifted right and was nearly headed by Golden Cross.
Indeed, he had wandered off course to such an extent that many felt a stewards’ inquiry should have been called to see if he had unfairly interfered with the runner up. Given that the margin of victory at the line was only a nose, it is hard not to have sympathy with connections of Golden Cross, who was clearly not helped by the winner’s manoeuvre. He also met trouble in running before two out, having been held up well off the pace by his Derby winning jockey, Johnny Murtagh.
All the winner does is stay and given his tender years there could be more to come, especially on his preferred soft ground. By contrast, the second is equally effective over shorter distances and his trainer even admitted after the race that a crack at the Champion Hurdle may be an option if ever the ground were to come up soft.
Back in third was Mighty Man, who was sent off the 4-1 favourite. His season, up until now, had been blighted by bad luck, but there were no excuses here. Unlike the winner, he was unable to quicken off the final bend. However, he too is only a six year old and so can continue to improve.
Fire Dragon ran a blinder in fourth. He was the youngest horse in the field and has improved over two stone this season. He has a very bright future but appeared to run out of gas here having travelled like the winner for a long way.
It was certainly encouraging to see so many exciting young horses fight out the finish to this prestigious event, but they’ll all have to go some to get close to matching the achievements of one of the sport’s all time great performers, who may well have run his last race after finishing a very creditable fifth here.
Baracouda is nothing short of a Festival legend and, incredibly, this was only the second time in 27 starts over hurdles that he has finished out of the first two (the first was on his debut in 2000). In that time, he has won over £750,000 in win and place prize money, and won this race, and been second in it, twice.
His jumping was as immaculate as usual and as in previous years he was still cruising on the bridle coming down the hill. However, he seems to have lost the finishing kick that has killed off so many opponents in the past and was unable to match the winner’s turn of foot up the home straight. Retirement beckons, but he has done the sport and his connections proud and it looks like he has handed the baton on to an exciting new bunch of stayers.
Of the rest, Emotional Moment seemed to find conditions much too quick for his liking, whilst Patriarch Express seemed to fail to stay the trip on this stiff course.
Roll of Honour (1972-1988)
(recent winners detailed towards top of page)
Year Winner Age/Wt Jockey Trainer SP
1988 Galmoy 9-11-10 Tommy Carmody John Mulhern IRE 2/1F
1987 Galmoy 8-11-10 Tommy Carmody John Mulhern IRE 9/2
1986 Crimson Embers 11-11-10 Stuart Shilston Fulke Walwyn 12/1
1985 Rose Ravine 6-11-05 Ricky Pusey Fulke Walwyn 5/1F
1984 Gaye Chance 9-11-10 Sam Morshead Mercy Rimell 5/1
1983 A Kinsman 7-11-12 Geordie Dun John Brockbank 50/1
1982 Crimson Embers 7-11-12 Stuart Shilston Fulke Walwyn 2/1F
1981 Derring Rose 6-11-12 John Francome Fred Winter 3/1
1980 Mountrivers 6-11-12 Tommy Ryan Edward O’Grady IRE 7/1
1979 Lighter 6-11-12 Philip Blacker John Edwards 14/1
1978 Flame Gun 6-11-12 Mr Niall Madden Edward O’Grady IRE 14/1
1977 Town Ship 6-11-12 Tommy Carberry Peter Easterby 5/2
1976 Bit Of A Jig 8-11-12 Dessie Hughes Mick O’Toole IRE 2/1F
1975 Brown Lad 9-11-12 Tommy Carberry Jim Dreaper IRE 7/4F
1974 Highland Abbe 8-11-12 Richard Smith Les Kennard 15/2
1973 Moyne Royal 8-11-12 David Mould Arthur Pitt 10/1
1972 Parlour Moor 8-11-12 Macer Gifford Tom Jones 13/2