Neptune Investment Hurdle Betting

Formally known as the Neptune Investment Management Novices Hurdle, this Class A Grade 1 hurdle has been run at the Cheltenham Festival each March since 1971. It covers a distance of two miles and five furlongs over the left-handed turf of the Old Course and includes a total of ten hurdles to be jumped. The race is open to four-year-olds and up, with a weight of 10 stone 13 pounds for those aged four and 11 stone 7 pounds for the older horses. An allowance of 7 pounds is made for fillies and mares.

Occupying the second spot on the second day of racing, the Neptune Investment Hurdle is often compared to the preceding day’s Supreme Novices Hurdle. The main difference between the two, other than the slightly longer distance and additional two hurdles, is that this event suits both top-class stayers from flat racing as well as the more traditional chasing types.

The list of horses that have won their Cheltenham debut here and gone on to greatness is quite impressive. It includes 1975’s winner Davy Lad, champion of the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1977, as well as Istabraq in 1997 and Hardy Eustace in 2003, each of which won this race on the way to multiple victories in the Stan James Champion Hurdle in subsequent years.

The inaugural version of this race was known as the Aldsworth Hurdle. In 1974, an insurance company took up sponsorship and the race was renamed the sun Alliance Novices’ Hurdle. From 2006 to 2009, Ballymore Properties held the title to the event, which was run on Cheltenham’s New Course in 2008 due to high winds on race day.

Although Neptune Investment Management became the sponsor in 2010 and have their name associated with the race on all programs and in the public eye, the actual non-sponsored, registered title is the Baring Bingham Novices’ Hurdle. This was arranged to honour the memory of Baring Bingham, the developer who bought Prestbury Park in 1898 and organised the initial Cheltenham Festival in 1902.

In 2011, the total prize fund for the Neptune Investment Hurdle is £100,000. That is identical to 2010’s purse, when Donald McCain’s Irish five-year-old Peddlers Cross claimed the £57,010 first prize money, beating out the best French mount, Reve de Sivola, as well as the favourite, Rite of Passage. The winning odds were 7/1.

In recent years, the top ranked horses have done quite well in this race. Fully 23 of the last 25 winners of the Neptune Investment Hurdle have started in the first six in the betting. Favourites have won 13 of the 38 runnings, including eight of the past 20. Among the most recent were the fore-mentioned champion Istabraq at 6/5 odds, 1998’s winner French Holly at 2/1, 1999’s Barton also at 2/1, and 2000’s Monsignor at 5/4. The latest favourite to win here was Willie Mullins’ Mikael D’Haguenet in 2009 at 5/2.

The course tends to favour younger entrants, as only one horse aged older than six has ever won the Neptune Investment Hurdle. That was eight-year-old Brown Lad, way back in 1974. Another obvious trend is previous form; 26 of the last 27 winners finished first or second in their previous outing.

In the 1990s, Charlie Swan became the first and only jockey to ride three winners in the Neptune. No fewer than eight trainers have claimed two victories, including Aidan O’Brien in 1996~97 and Willie Mullins in 2008~09. Missing from the winners’ roster, however, is trainer Nicky Henderson. His record in this race is 0-for-21, with just two of his entrants coming in higher than tenth since 1990.

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