Elite Hurdle

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The Elite Hurdle is a Grade 2 race over two miles for four-year-olds and upwards at Wincanton in early November.

The Elite Hurdle is one of the first serious Champion Hurdle trials of the season. Notable past winners include Morley Street (1992), Azertyuiop (2001), Well Chief (2003) and Zarkandar (2012).

Sceau Royal won the race in 2016, 2020 and 2021 and finished runner-up when attempting a fourth victory in 2022.

Find out more about the Elite Hurdle:

Elite Hurdle

Race Overview

Horses must be four years old or older to compete in the Grade 2 National Hunt hurdle race known as the Elite Hurdle in Great Britain.

There are eight hurdles to clear during the race, which is run at Wincanton over a distance of around one mile and 712 furlongs (1 mile 7 furlongs and 65 yards, or 3,077 metres).

Every year, the race is planned for the first few days of November.

Elite Hurdle Previous Winners

2013Melodic Rendezvous7Nick ScholfieldJeremy Scott
2014Purple Bay5Mikey EnnisJohn Ferguson
2015Irving7Nick ScholfieldPaul Nicholls
2016Sceau Royal4Daryl JacobAlan King
2017London Prize6Tom O’BrienIan Williams
2018Verdana Blue6Jeremiah McGrathNicky Henderson
2019Fusil Raffles4Daryl JacobNicky Henderson
2020Sceau Royal8Daryl JacobAlan King
2021Sceau Royal9Daryl JacobAlan King
2022Knappers Hill6Harry CobdenPaul Nicholls
2023Rubaud5Harry CobdenPaul Nicholls

Elite Hurdle Previous Result

Take a look at this result from Wincanton Racecourse:

Famous Elite Hurdle Winners

The Elite Hurdle was originally held at Cheltenham in 1992 with victory going to reigning Champion Hurdler Morley Street. The race was transferred to Wincanton in 1994 and run as a limited handicap between 1998 and 2017 before reverting to a conditions race in 2018.

Although billed as a Champion Hurdle Trial, the race has been won by several subsequent top class chasers including Azertyuiop (2001) and Well Chief (2003). Azertyuiop won the Arkle Challenge Trophy at Cheltenham in 2003 and the Queen Mother Champion Chase the following year. Well Chief won the Arkle Chase in 2004 and the valuable Celebration Chase at Sandown in 2005.

The Paul Nicholls-trained Celestial Halo became the first horse to win the race twice in 2009 and 2011. Triumph Hurdle winner Zarkandar won for the same stable in 2012. He went on to win the International Hurdle (2012) and the Aintree Hurdle (2013).

Sceau Royal won this race for the first time in 2016, trained by Alan King and ridden by Daryl Jacob. He returned to win it for a second time in 2020 and became the first three-time winner of the Elite Hurdle in 2021. He was denied a remarkable fourth victory in 2022 when beaten by Knappers Hill.

Key Elite Hurdle Trials

This race is often the first of the season for one or more Champion Hurdle hopefuls. Half of the last twelve winners had not raced for at least 100 days.

Six recent Elite Hurdle winners ran next in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle next time but all were beaten. Chomba Womba (2008) went on to win the Ascot Hurdle and Zarkandar (2012) won the International Hurdle at Cheltenham on his next start. Other likely targets include the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham and the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton Park.

There is no significance in age among recent Elite Hurdle winners. Horses aged from four to nine have won the event in the past ten years. Sceau Royal was the first four-year-old to win for thirteen years when successful in 2016. He also won it at the ages of eight and nine but the oldest winner in the history of the race was Mister Morose (2000) at the age of ten.

Sceau Royal (2016) was the only successful favourite between 2007 and 2018. However, three successive favourites won from 2019 to 2021. Purple Bay was the only shock result during that period, returning at 16-1 in 2014. Six winners ran in the Champion Hurdle in the same season but all were beaten.

Eleven of the last twelve winners were rated 146 or higher. The exception was London Prize (134) in 2017. The highest rated winner during that time was Zarkandar (163) in 2012.

Elite Hurdle – Top Trainers and Jockeys

Paul Nicholls is the leading trainer in the history of the race with eight winners. His winners include Azertyuiop (2001), Irving (2015), Celestial Halo (2009, 2011) and Zarkandar (2012). His most recent winner was Knappers Hill in 2022.

Jockey Daryl Jacob is the leading jockey with six victories; Celestial Halo (2011), Zarkandar (2012), Sceau Royal (2016, 2020, 2021) and Fusil Raffles (2019).

Popular Questions

What are important facts about Elite Hurdle?

Here are some important facts about Elite Hurdle:

  • The Elite Hurdle is run at Wincanton Racecourse, Great Britain
  • The Elite Hurdle is for horses aged 4 and older
  • The Elite Hurdle is a National Hunt Hurdle race in Great Britain
  • The Elite Hurdle distance is 1 mile and 7½ furlongs

Summary of the Elite Hurdle

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