Ryanair World Hurdle
- The pinnacle for staying hurdlers
- Won by Cole Harden last year
- Thistlecrack has swept the board this season and leads the market
Last year’s World Hurdle was probably a poor quality renewal of the race. In recent years I think the race has struggled to emerge from the shadow of Big Bucks who won the race for an unprecedented four years in a row between ’09 and ’12 and scared away much of the competition during that time.
This year I’m hoping is the year that the race emerges as a real spectacle again. Thistlecrack heads the betting at around 5/4 and that might drift a little come race time if the bookies are having a good day. His victories at Ascot and Newbury over 3 miles this season made him the obvious choice, particularly his win in the Long Walk at Ascot which for me was far more impressive than the win at Newbury which looked slow and laboured.
Then he promptly bolted up at Cheltenham in January and confirmed his position as the obvious favourite for this. Assuming that he is just as effective on better ground (his win at Aintree last year suggests that he probably is) then he looks very hard to beat and now that he has made it to the festival safe and sound I am going to put him in my Thursday/Friday acca.
I’ve already identified two others at nice prices who could be good each way alternatives for those looking for a big price: The first of those is COLE HARDEN, last year’s winner who I tipped as an antepost shout at 8/1 and is still available at 11/2 at the time of writing. I think that is still a fair price because he will have his good ground and could set off at a fair clip and be hard to catch. Warren Greatrex couldn’t care less about the horse’s form through the winter (beaten by Thistlecrack at Newbury) although it remains to be seen if the other jockeys will allow him a soft lead like he got last year.
The one horse that could be anything is AUX PTITS SOINS from the Paul Nicholls yard. He has had one race in the UK and that was a brave win in the Coral Cup at last year’s festival. He has been out with injury problems since then so we have to take his fitness and wellbeing on trust but Paul Nicholls seems confident that the horse is in good shape and will give a good account of himself.
Diego Du Charmil today advertised Nicholl’s ability to get one spot on for the big day. Aux Ptits Soins could be a superstar and is probably the one horse in the field who could improve enough to beat Thistlecrack. He could also flop completely due to lack of fitness but I think he is worth having onside at the prices. I tipped him up antepost at 16/1 and he is available at 10/1 today.
Already advised – COLE HARDEN 2pts e/w at 8/1Already advised – AUX PETITS SOIN – 1pt e/w at 16/1