National Spirit Hurdle

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The National Spirit Hurdle is a Grade 2 race over two miles and three furlongs at Fontwell Park.

The National Spirit Hurdle takes place on the 25th of February 2024.

It takes place in late February or early March and is named after the 1947 and 1948 Champion Hurdle winner.

Notable past winners include Comedy Of Errors (1976, 1977), Bird’s Nest (1979), Beech Road (1989), Baracouda (2001) and My Way de Solzen (2006).

Find out more about the National Spirit Hurdle:

National Spirit Hurdle

Race Overview – The National Spirit Hurdle

Horses must be four years old or older to compete in the Grade 2 National Hunt hurdle race – National Spirit Hurdle.

There are 10 hurdles to clear throughout the race, which is raced at Fontwell Park over a distance of around 2 miles and 3 furlongs (2 miles, 3 furlongs, and 33 yards, or 3,852 metres).

It is one of the main races for February horse racing in 2024.

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Famous National Spirit Hurdle Winners

The National Spirit Hurdle was originally regarded as a Champion Hurdle Trial, although these days it tends to attract horses engaged in the Stayers Hurdle.

Comedy Of Errors won here as a nine and ten-year-old in 1976 and 1977 for Trainer Fred Rimell and jockey John Burke. His Champion Hurdle victories came in 1973 and 1975, finishing runner-up to Lanzarote in 1974.

Bird’s Nest won the National Spirit in 1979 for Bob and Andy Turnell. He never won the Champion Hurdle but was regularly pitted against the likes of Night Nurse, Sea Pigeon and Monksfield in the Gold Age of hurdling. He did win the Scottish Champion Hurdle twice and the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton Park.

1989 winner Beech Road went on to win the Champion Hurdle in the same season for Toby Balding and Richard Guest. He was a 50-1 chance but ran on too strongly for Celtic Chief and Celtic Shot.

2001 winner Baracouda was trained in France by Thierry Doumen and won the Stayers Hurdle in 2002 and 2003. He also won the Long Walk Hurdle four times, the Ascot Hurdle twice and the Long Distance Hurdle twice.

My Way de Solzen (2006) is the only horse to win the National Spirit Hurdle and the Stayers Hurdle in the same season.

The most recent dual winners of the race have been David Pipe’s Lough Derg (2008, 2009) and Olly Murphy’s Brewin’upastorm (2021, 2023).

Key National Spirit Hurdle Trials

There have been no obvious trial races for the National Spirit Hurdle in recent seasons. It may be worth noting that seven of the last twelve winners had at least one previous victory over two and a half miles.

Only three of the last ten winners ran at the Cheltenham Festival in the same season.

Third Intention (2012) and Vision Des Flos (2019) both finished down the field in the Coral Cup and Lil Rockerfeller (2016) finished seventh in the Champion Hurdle. Three winners ran in the Aintree Hurdle at the Grand National meeting but all were unplaced. The subsequent form of recent winners has been poor with none of the last ten managing even a place during the remainder of the season.

There have only been two winning favourites in the National Spirit Hurdle in the past twelve seasons; Third Intention (2012) 11-10 and Lil Rockerfeller (2016) 7-4. Eight of the twelve were in the first three in the betting in a race which typically attracts a small field. The biggest turnout for this event in the past twelve seasons was eight runners in 2016 and 2019.

There have been a few surprise results, the biggest being the 20-1 victory of Botox Has in 2022. Kayf Moss won at 16-1 in 2014 and Camping Ground was a 9-1 chance when winning in 2017. The winning age range has been from five to ten during the same period. An official rate of 148 or higher is usually required to win the National Spirit Hurdle. The highest rated winners in recent years were Old Guard (2018) and William Henry (2020), both rated 156.

National Spirit Hurdle – Top Trainers and Jockeys

No Trainer has really dominated this race but Paul Nicholls has won it three times, most recently with Old Guard in 2018. Gary Moore won it with Camping Ground and Botox Has while Olly Murphy trained Brewin’upastorm to win it in 2021 and 2023.

The recently retired Tom Scudamore rode the winner on three occasions; Lough Derg (2008, 2009) and Vision Des Flos (2019). That equals the tally of Tony McCoy, successful on Lady Cricket (1999), Classified (2003) and Blue Canyon (2005). Joshua Moore and Aidan Coleman have ridden two winners apiece.

Betting on the National Spirit Hurdle

The National Spirit Hurdle is one of the highlights of the season at Fontwell Park.

The race may no longer attract the quality of horse that it once did but it still produces a competitive event. As a note of caution, the form has not been holding up in subsequent races.

National Spirit Hurdle Facts

  • The National Spirit Hurdle is a Grade 1 National Hunt hurdle race in the United Kingdom for four-year-old and above horses.
  • It is run at Fontwell Park over a distance of about 2 miles and 3 furlongs, and during its running there are ten hurdles to be jumped.
  • The race is scheduled to take place each year in February or March.
  • The National Spirit Hurdle was first run in 2013.

Summary of the National Spirit Hurdle

Thank you for reading our National Spirit Hurdle page.

We have looked at odds, tips, history and more so you can find all the information you need whether you are looking to place a bet or simply enjoy the race.

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