Thursday, 2 February 2023

Adonis Juvenile Novices' Hurdle

The Adonis Juvenile Novices' Hurdle is a Grade 2 hurdle race run over 2 miles at Kempton Park in late February. As the title implies, the race is restricted to horses aged four years – or, in other words, aged three years at the start of the current season – who, by definition, are racing in their first season under National Hunt rules. Inaugurated, as the Tote Placepot Hurdle, in 1965, the race was elevated to Grade 2 from Listed status in 1991 and renamed to its current title three years later.


Despite the obvious differences between the right-handed, flat hurdles course at Kempton and the New Course at Cheltenham, which is left-handed, undulating and features just two flights of hurdles in the final three-quarters of a mile, the Adonis Juvenile Novices' Hurdle is considered a key trial for the Grade 1 Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. The most recent winner of both races was Zarkandar, trained by Paul Nicholls, in 2011. Indeed, more recent winners of the Adonis Juvenile Novices' Hurdle have a less-than-stellar record in the Triumph Hurdle. Since 2011, eight have attempted the double, but none of them has troubled the judge at Cheltenham, despite being well fancied more often than not.


Nicky Henderson, who saddled Katarino (1999), Punjabi (2007), Binocular (2008), Soldatino (2010) and Fusil Raffles (2019), and Alan King, who saddled Trouble at Bay (2004), Penzance (2005), Master Blueyes (2017), Redicean (2018) and Tritonic (2021), are jointly the most successful handlers in the history of the Adonis Juvenile Novices' Hurdle with five winners apiece. Looking ahead to the 2023 renewal of the Adonis Juvenile Novices' Hurdle, scheduled 1:50pm on Saturday, Februrary 25, punters may like to note that seven of the last ten starting price favourites have won.

Thursday, 5 January 2023

Champion Hurdle Trial

The Champion Hurdle Trial is a Grade 2 hurdle race run over 1 mile, 7 furlongs and 144 yards at Haydock Park in January. Open to horses aged four years and upwards, the race was inaugurated in 1981, but was elevated to Grade 2 status in 1992. Since 2018, the Champion Hurdle Trial has been sponsored by online gambling company Unibet and, since 2019, has been run as The New One Unibet Hurdle in honour of the horse that won four consecutuve renewals in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.


Nowadays, the Champion Hurdle Trial is the penultimate leg in a season-long series of six races sponsored by Unibet and hence known as the 'Unibet Road to Cheltenham'. The series starts with the Elite Hurdle, run at Wincanton in November, and culminates with the Champion Hurdle itself, run at the Cheltenham Festival in March.


The New One aside, Nigel Twiston-Davies also saddled Mistinguett (1997) and Ballyandy (2020) to victory in the Champion Hurdle Trial and is the leading trainer in the history of the race with six winners. Other notable winners of the race include Granville Again (1992), Flakey Dove (1994) and Rooster Booster (2004), all of whom won the Champion Hurdle – although only the second-named did so in the same year as her victory at Haydock Park – together with three-time Stayers' Hurdle winner Inglis Drever (2005) and three-time Aintree Hurdle winner Al Eile (2006).


If recent seasons are anything to go by, the likes of Constitution Hill, Honeysuckle and State Man, who currently head the ante-post betting market for the Champion Hurdle are unlikely to run at Haydock. Nevertheless, recent trends suggest that a likely winner of the Champion Hurdle Trial will be aged 7 years and upwards, rated 150, or higher, and possess recent, preferably winning, form.