Classic Novices’ Hurdle

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The Classic Novices Hurdle is a Grade 2 race over an extended two-and-a-half miles at Cheltenham in January. It is regarded as an important trial for the Ballymore Novices Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

Notable previous winners include Wichita Lineman (2007), Gold Cup winner Bobs Worth (2011), At Fishers Cross (2013) and Yanworth (2016).

Find out more about the Classic Novices’ Hurdle:

Classic Novices’ Hurdle

Race Overview – The Classic Novices Hurdle

Horses four years old and older may compete in the Classic Novices’ Hurdle, a Grade 2 National Hunt hurdle race.

There are 10 hurdles to clear during the race, which is run over a distance of approximately 2 miles and 412 furlongs (2 miles 4 furlongs and 56 yards, or 4,074 metres), on the New Course at Cheltenham.

The Classic Novices’ Hurdle horse race takes place in January each year. The race was created in 2005.

Currently, the Ballymore Group is its sponsor.

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Famous Classic Novices Hurdle Winners

The Classic Novices Hurdle was first run in 2005 with victory going to the French-trained Ambobo.

The meeting was abandoned due to frost the following year before Wichita Lineman’s victory in 2007. He went on to win the Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. Jonjo O’Neill’s gelding returned to claim a second Festival victory in 2009 when landing the William Hill Trophy Handicap Chase. That is still widely regarded as the finest ride ever produced by Tony McCoy as the horse rallied from a seemingly impossible position.

2009 winner Diamond Harry went on to win the Hennessy Gold Cup in 2010. Bobs Worth (2011) would also claim a Hennessy triumph as well as three consecutive Festival victories. He won the Albert Bartlett in 2011, the RSA Chase in 2012 and the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2013.

At Fishers Cross (2013) was another to go on and win the Albert Bartlett while 2016 winner Yanworth was a very high-class performer trained by Alan King. He was runner-up in the Ballymore before winning the 2016 Ascot Hurdle, 2017 Christmas Hurdle and Aintree Hurdle. 2018 winner Santini went close to winning a Cheltenham Gold Cup when chasing home Al Boum Photo in 2020.

Classic Novices Hurdle 2024 Result

Key Classic Novices Hurdle Trials

Four of the last eleven winners of the Classic Novices Hurdle had already recorded at least one previous Cheltenham victory.

Interestingly, horses winning here have had more success in the three-mile Albert Bartlett than in the shorter Ballymore Novices Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

Six of the last eleven winners contested the Albert Bartlett with Bobs Worth and At Fishers Cross both successful. Three winners ran in the Ballymore with only Yanworth managing a place.

Only two favourites have obliged in the last eleven renewals; Yanworth (2016) at 2-1 and Wholestone (11-4) in 2017. All but two of those eleven winners were in the first three in the betting. The two exceptions were Batonnier (12-1) in 2012 and Ordo Ab Chao (2015) at 16-1.

Six-year-olds have the best record. They have won eleven of the sixteen renewals compared to five five-year-olds. No other age group has won the Classic Novices Hurdle to date.

An official rating of 135 or higher is usually required to win this race.

The highest-rated recent winner was Yanworth (148), 3lbs higher than At Fishers Cross (145).

Classic Novices Hurdle – Top Trainers and Jockeys

Nicky Henderson and Alan King have each trained the winner on four occasions.

Henderson’s victories came with Aigle d’Or (2008), Bobs Worth (2011), Santini (2018) and Birchdale (2019).

King has won this race with Batonnier (2012), Ordo Ab Chao (2015), Yanworth (2016) and North Lodge (2022).

Barry Geraghty is the leading rider in the history of the event with four victories aboard Ambobo (2005), Bobs Worth (2011), Yanworth (2016) and Birchdale (2019).

Betting on the Classic Novices Hurdle

The Classic Novices Hurdle has so far had more influence on the outcome of the Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle than the Ballymore.

This is something to bear in mind if contemplating Cheltenham Festival options for the winner. Favourites have a poor record but the winner has invariably been one of the more fancied runners.

Facts about the Classic Novices’ Hurdle

  • The Classic Novices’ Hurdle is a Grade 2 National Hunt hurdle race in Great Britain which is open to horses aged four years or older.
  • It is run on the New Course at Cheltenham over a distance of about 2 miles and 4 and a half furlongs (4,023 metres), and during its running, there are ten hurdles to be jumped.

Summary of the Classic Novices’ Hurdle

Thank you for reading our Classic Novices’ Hurdle guide.

We have looked at the race history, previous winners, this year’s odds and more, so that you can make an informed decision if you are trying to find the winner, or simply enjoying watching the race.

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