Cleeve Hurdle

James Dooley avatar

Written By:


The Cleeve Hurdle is a Grade 2 race over three miles at Cheltenham in January. It is an important trial for the Stayers Hurdle at the Festival meeting in March.

Paisley Park (2019, 2020 and 2022) became the second horse to win the Cleeve Hurdle three times after Lady Rebecca (1999-2001).

Other notable winners include Inglis Drever (2008), Big Buck’s (2009 and 2012) and Thistlecrack (2016).

The Cheltenham Cleeve Hurdle is a popular horse racing event in January every year.

Find out more about the Cleeve Hurdle:

Cleeve Hurdle

Race Overview – The Cleeve Hurdle

Horses five years old and older may compete in the Grade 2 National Hunt hurdle race known as the Cleeve Hurdle in Great Britain.

There are twelve hurdles to clear throughout the race, which is run over a distance of around 3 miles, on the New Course at Cheltenham.

If you are looking for more racing tips for events held at Cheltenham Racecourse then check out our Cheltenham betting tips guide.

For all Cheltenham races, our finest racing tipsters give free horse racing tips!

Famous Cleeve Hurdle Winners

The Cleeve Hurdle was first run in 1983 over two miles and five furlongs. The inaugural running was won by Al Kuwait, trained by Fred Winter and ridden by John Francome.

The race held Grade 1 status between 1991 and 2004 when it was downgraded and the distance increased to three miles.

Early winners included Stayers Hurdle winner Rose Ravine (1985) and Champion Hurdle winners Beech Road (1990) and Flakey Dove (1994).

Rose Ravine won a controversial Stayers Hurdle in 1985 where most observers felt that she ought to have been disqualified in favour of stable companion Crimson Embers following interference. The latter had won the race in 1982 and would reclaim the Stayers crown as an eleven-year-old in 1986.

Beech Road sprang a 50-1 surprise in the 1989 Champion Hurdle for Toby Balding and Richard Guest.

Flakey Dove won the 1994 Champion Hurdle for Trainer Richard Price and Mark Dwyer. She was only the third mare in history to win the race.

Lady Rebecca was a brilliant mare trained by Venetia Williams and ridden by Norman Williamson. She won the race for three successive seasons between 1999 and 2001. She did not win the Stayers Hurdle, her best effort being a close third to shock winner Anzum in 1999.

Big Buck’s, arguably the greatest staying hurdler of all time, won the Cleeve Hurdle in 2009 and 2012. He won the Stayers Hurdle four times while 2008 Cleeve winner Inglis Drever was a three-time winner of the top stayers’ prize.

Thistlecrack added his name to roll of honour in 2016 and Paisley Park (2019, 2020 and 2022) recently equalled Lady Rebecca’s record three victories.

The 2021 renewal was abandoned due to a waterlogged course.

Cleeve Hurdle 2024 Result

Check out the latest result from this race:

Key Cleeve Hurdle Trials

The Cleeve Hurdle is the natural target for winners of the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot.

Six of the last twelve winners of the Cleeve ran at Ascot on their previous start and five of them won both races; Big Buck’s (2011), Reve De Sivola (2012), Thistlecrack (2015), Unowhatimeanharry (2016) and Paisley Park (2018).

Previous Cheltenham form is a factor with the last eleven winners all having raced at least once here.

Seven of them had already won once at the track.

The Stayers Hurdle is the Cheltenham Festival objective for Cleeve Hurdle winners.

Nine of the last eleven have run in the big race with three of them winning; Bick Buck’s (2012), Thistlecrack (2016) and Paisley Park (2019).

Favourites have a good record in this race, winning seven of the last eleven renewals.

The shortest-priced winner was Big Buck’s (2012) who returned at 1-4. The other winning favourites were Grand Crus (2011), Reve De Sivola (2013), Thistlecrack (2016), Unowhatimeanharry (2017) and Paisley Park (2020 and 2022).

There was only one shock result in the Cleeve Hurdle during recent years. That was the 66-1 success of the veteran Knockara Beau in 2014. He won as an eleven-year-old and was trained by George Charlton and ridden by Jan Faltejsek. He was the outsider of a five-runner that field that also included Big Buck’s. He remains the oldest winner in the history of the race. Five five-year-olds have been successful in this event, the most recent being Blazing Bailey in 2007.

An official rating of 154 or higher is usually required to win the Cleeve Hurdle. Knockara Beau (145) was the lowest-rated winner in recent times while Big Buck’s was the highest-rated winner on 174.

Cleeve Hurdle – Top Trainers and Jockeys

Norman Williamson is the leading jockey in the history of the Cleeve Hurdle with four winners. He won it three times on Lady Rebecca (1999-2001) and also on Mudahim (1995).

Aidan Coleman moved to within one of Williamson’s total with three victories aboard Paisley Park (2019, 2020 and 2022).

Venetia Williams and Emma Lavelle, the respective trainers of Lady Rebecca and Paisley, share the leading trainer honours.

Paul Nicholls has also trained the winner three times; Big Buck’s (2009 and 2012) and Saphir Du Rheu (2015).

Betting on the Cleeve Hurdle

The Cleeve Hurdle is very closely linked with the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot. It invariably features horses who won or were placed in that event.

The outcome of this race also has a big influence on the betting for the Stayers Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. The form is usually rock solid and can be followed with confidence.

Facts about the Cleeve Hurdle

  • The Cleeve Hurdle is a Grade 2 National Hunt hurdle race in the United Kingdom for horses which are five-years-old or above.
  • It is run on the New Course at Cheltenham over a distance of about 3 miles, and during its running there are twelve hurdles to be jumped.
  • The race is scheduled to take place each year in January.

Summary of the Cleeve Hurdle

Thank you for reading our Cleeve Hurdle guide.

We have looked at the history of the race, betting, tips and more, so you can make an informed decision whether you are placing a bet or just watching.

There are more races in January that you might enjoy, so make sure you check them out.

Check out our Cheltenham tips page if you enjoy watching races at Cheltenham Racecourse.

Here are all of January’s horse racing-related posts: