International Hurdle

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The International Hurdle is a Grade 2 race over an extended two miles at Cheltenham in December.

It was originally titled the Cheltenham Trial Hurdle and has long been established as a trial for the Champion Hurdle in March.

Three horses have won the race on three occasions, the most recent being The New One (2013, 2014 and 2016). Other notable winners include Comedy Of Errors (1973, 1974), Sea Pigeon (1975), Rooster Booster (2002) and Binocular (2008).

Find out more about the International Hurdle:

International Hurdle

Race Overview – The International Hurdle

Horses must be four years old or older to compete in the Grade 2 National Hunt hurdle, the International Hurdle in Great Britain.

There are eight hurdles to clear during the race, which is held on the New Course at Cheltenham over a distance of around 2 miles and 1 furlong (2 miles and 179 yards, or 3,382 metres). Every year in December, the race is planned to take place.

Famous International Hurdle Winners

The roll of honour for the early years of the International Hurdle is littered with top-class hurdlers; Magic Court (1964), Salmon Spray (1965), Pendil (1970), Bula (1972), Comedy Of Errors (1973, 1974) and Sea Pigeon (1975).

Magic Court won the Champion Hurdle in 1964 while Salmon Spray won hurdling’s top prize in 1966.

Bula won the Champion in 1971 and 1972, trained by Fred Winter and ridden by Paul Kelleway.

Comedy Of Errors won the Champion Hurdle in 1973 and 1975 while Sea Pigeon’s Cheltenham victories came in 1980 and 1981, the latter at the age of eleven.

Birds Nest became the first three-time winner of the race in 1977, 1978 and 1980. He was trained by Andy Turnell and ridden by Bob Turnell. Although he never won the Champion Hurdle he was a regular rival to the likes of Sea Pigeon, Night Nurse and Monksfield during the golden era of hurdling.

Relkeel became the second horse to win it three times, reeling off a hat trick from 1997 to 1999. He was trained by David Nicholson for his first two victories with Alan King training him to his record-equalling third success. The New One (2013, 2014 and 2016) added his name to the list for Nigel Twiston-Davies.

Other notable winners of the International Hurdle include Champion Hurdlers Rooster Booster (2002) and Binocular (2008).

Rooster Booster won the Champion Hurdle for Trainer Philip Hobbs and Jockey Richard Johnson.

The same combination teamed up to win this race with Detroit City in 2006.

Key International Hurdle Trials

The best trial for the International Hurdle in recent seasons has been the Ascot Hurdle. Three of the last twelve winners ran in that race with one winner and one placed. Course form is an asset here with ten of those twelve having had at least two previous runs at Cheltenham and seven of them having at least one course victory.

Class is also a factor with all but one having already been successful at least once at Grade 1 to 3 level.

Three of the last twelve winners ran in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton Park but all were beaten.

Two ran in the Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton, Zarkandar (2012) winning and Song For Someone (2020) finishing runner-up.

Seven of the twelve ran in the Champion Hurdle, The New One finished third in 2013-2014.

There have been six winning outright favourites and one joint favourite in the last twelve years.

The New One was odds-on favourite for his first two victories and a well-backed 13-8 favourite for his third success.

Only one of those twelve winners was outside the first three in the betting, Brain Power at 7-1 in 2018. He and Old Guard (7-1 winning third favourite in 2015) were the longest-priced winners during that period.

Five-year-olds have been the most successful age group. Three ten-year-olds have won this race; Birds Nest (1980), Relkeel (1999) and My Tent Or Yours (2017).

Seven four-year-olds have won the International Hurdle in its history, the most recent being Old Guard in 2015.

It normally requires an official rating of 156 or higher to win this race. Guard Your Dreams (rated 147 in 2021) is the only horse in the past twelve seasons to win off a lower mark.

The highest winning rating during that period was Zarkandar (rated 168 in 2012).

International Hurdle – Top Trainers and Jockeys

The leading Trainer in the history of the International Hurdle is Nicky Henderson with six winners; Geos (2000), Binocular (2008), Grandouet (2011), My Tent Or Yours (2017), Brain Power (2018) and Call Me Lord (2019).

The victory of Guard Your Dreams (2021) was a fifth success for Nigel Twiston-Davies after wins for Khyber Kim (2009) and The New One (2013, 2014 and 2016).

Richard Johnson leads the jockey standings with six winners; Relkeel (1997, 1999), Rooster Booster (2002), Detroit City (2006), Menorah (2010) and The New One (2016).

Popular Questions

What are important facts about International Hurdle?

Here are some important facts about International Hurdle:

  • The International Hurdle is run at Cheltenham Racecourse, Great Britain
  • The International Hurdle is for horses aged 4 and over
  • The International Hurdle is a National Hunt Hurdle race in Great Britain
  • The International Hurdle distance is 2 miles and 1 furlong

Summary of the International Hurdle

Thank you for reading our International Hurdle guide.

The race is one of the very best hurdle races of the season with many going on to claim top honours at The Cheltenham Festival.

In our guide we have looked at history, previous winners, odds and more, so you have all the information if placing a bet or just watching on TV.

You can check out the Cheltenham horse racing tips page for our tips on this race or take a look at more horse racing in December.