Ladbrokes World Hurdle Betting

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Conducted on the third day of racing at the Cheltenham Festival each March, the Class A Grade 1 National Hunt hurdle race known as the ladbrokes World Hurdle attracts considerable interest in the lead up to Day Four’s Gold Cup event. It is run on the left-handed turf of the New Course, covering a distance of exactly three miles and including a dozen hurdles to be negotiated.

The event is open to any horse aged four years or older. The weight allotted to four-year-olds is set at 11 stone 1 pound, while the older mounts carry 11 stone 10. Fillies and mares receive an allowance of 7 pounds. It typically attracts 14 starters, although eight smallest field ever to go to post (1973) and 22 was the largest (1985, 1990). The current safety limit has been set at 24.

The ladbrokes World Hurdle dates back to 1972, when it was known as the Stayers’ Hurdle. Prior to that, the Spa Hurdle had been run, but under different conditions from the present format, so its history is not included in the ladbrokes World Hurdle record books.

The Stayers’ Hurdle was always held on Day One or Two of the Festival, but in 1993 it was switched to Day Three. Another change was the move from Cheltenham’s Old Course to the new one, and a reduction of the distance from its original three miles and one furlong.

The very first sponsor of the race was Lloyds Bank. From 1978 to 1990, Waterford Crystal held the title position, which was subsequently claimed by Bonusprint between 1991 and 2004. When ladbrokes assumed sponsorship in 2005, the name of the event was changed to the World Hurdle. In this sense, it is one of the Festival’s youngest races, but it carries on nearly four decades of tradition as the leading long-distance hurdle event in the National Hunt calendar.

No fewer than eight jockeys have ridden two winners here since 1972, ranging from the first, Tommy Carberry on Brown Lad in 1975 and Town Ship in 1977, to the most recent, Ruby Walsh, a double winner aboard Big Buck’s in 2009~2010. Also included are Stuart Shilston, Tommy Carmody, Charlie Swan, Mark Perrett, Jamie Osborne, and Thierry Doumen.

Two trainers have pulled off the hat-trick at the ladbrokes World Hurdle. Fulke Walwyn set the bar high with Crimson Embers winning in 1982 and 1986 along with Rose Ravine in 1985, both horses owned by Sally Smart. Then came Howard Johnson with Inglis Drever, the race’s only threepeater—owned by Andrea and Graham Wylie—in 2005, 2007 and 2008. It might have been four straight victories if not for an injury that kept the champion out in 2006.

In 2011, the total prize pool for the ladbrokes World Hurdle is unchanged from its previous level at £260,000. The top prize paid to a winner thus far was the 2010 purse of £148,226 claimed by Big Buck’s in his second win, which paid only 5/6 at the Tote as the Paul Nicholls-trained seven-year-old was the clear favourite to repeat.

In fact, a total of 12 favourites have had success here since 1972, and in the last decade no winner has paid higher than 8/1. Irish-trained horses once dominated this race, but not a single winner has been produced by the Emerald Isle since Dorans Pride in 1995. More recently, French-breds have done well, taking five of the latest nine runnings.

Age makes a difference in the ladbrokes World Hurdle. Five-year-olds have placed, but never crossed the finish line first. In his second win, 11-year-old Crimson Embers became the race’s only victor older than nine, but no entry aged over eight has ever succeeded on the first outing in this race since 1984.

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