Christmas Hurdle Tips and Betting Offers
The Christmas Hurdle doesn’t have the prestige of the King George VI but it’s still a cracking and classy race.
Read on for our brilliant betting tips and offers as well as the best odds for the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton Park. Or why not check out what our favourite racing betting sites have to offer?
Christmas Hurdle Tips and Betting Offers, 2:30, 26th December 2019
The Grade 1 Christmas Hurdle is one of the highlights of the Christmas sporting calendar. Run annually at Kempton Park on Boxing Day, it always attracts a high class field and a great deal of interest from racing fans around the world. Despite the lack of a Triple Crown of Hurdling contender, the storylines for this year’s running are plentiful and there is a great deal of betting opportunity but where does the best value lie?
Will Epatante Prove the Pick of Henderson’s Entries?
Nicky Henderson is already the most successful trainer in the history of the Christmas Hurdle. He’s saddled the winner of this race seven times starting with Geos in 2000 and it would brave to bet against him extending that to eight winners on Thursday.
In all, Henderson has three horses in the running for this year’s renewal. The first is the favourite, Fusil Raffles. The four-year-old ended his season with a pair of wins, the first in the Grade 2 Juvenile Hurdle, the second in the Grade 1 Four-Year-Old Hurdle at Punchestown. He carried on in the same vein with victory in the Grade 2 Elite Hurdle and has been well backed for yet more success.
Leading the challenge to the favourite (in the eyes of the bookies at least) is Verdana Blue. The experienced seven-year-old is the defending champion of the Christmas Hurdle and has more than enough stamina to cope with the soft ground expected at Kempton during the 2 mile trip. The only problem is that Verdana Blue has not yet had a run this season and winning a Grade 1 on his reappearance may just be too big an ask.
The final Henderson entry on Boxing Day, Epatante, may represent the best value at 9/2 with bet365. After making an impression as a novice hurdler, the sky really is the limit for this highly talented mare. A lack of experience is the main mark against Epatante but there is no questioning her raw ability in a competitive race.
Tough Conditions Could Put a Premium on Experience
You have to go back to 2008 for the last time that a horse aged older than seven won the Christmas Hurdle. Whilst many of the most favoured options for this year’s renewal are on the younger end of the scale, there are a couple of more experienced contenders in with a real chance of at least claiming a place.
Ch’tibello is getting a fair amount of support from punters at a general price of 9/1. Dan Skelton’s eight-year-old made a decent return to action this season with third place in the International Hurdle and has an outside claim but the each way value lies with Ballyandy at 14/1 with Coral.
He’s proven to be a highly consistent performer over the years for the Nigel Twiston-Davies yard. He has already made three appearances this season, the last of which was second place in the International Hurdle. One fewer furlong should help compensate for the soft ground so Ballyandy is overpriced for a place.
The 2019 Christmas Hurdle is shaping to be the most exciting of all the racing on Boxing Day. There is value throughout the card with the best of it provided by Epatante who is the pick to win the race outright at 4/1 with bet365 and Ballyandy who should be backed each way at 14/1 with Coral.
Previous Race Winners
- 2018 – Verdana Blue – jockey Nico de Boinville, trainer Nicky Henderson
- 2017 – Buveur d’Air – jockey Barry Geraghty, trainer Nicky Henderson
- 2016 – Yanworth – jockey Barry Geraghty, trainer Alan King
- 2015 – Faugheen – jockey Ruby Walsh, trainer Willie Mullins
- 2014 – Faugheen – jockey Ruby Walsh, trainer Willie Mullins
- 2013 – My Tent Or Yours – jockey Tony McCoy, trainer Nicky Henderson
- 2012 – Darlan – jockey Tony McCoy, trainer Nicky Henderson
- 2011 – Binocular – jockey Tony McCoy, trainer Nicky Henderson
- 2010 – Binocular – jockey Tony McCoy, trainer Nicky Henderson
- 2009 – Go Native – jockey Davy Condon, trainer Noel Meade
- 2008 – Harchibald – jockey Paul Carberry, trainer Noel Meade
- 2007 – Straw Bear – jockey Tony McCoy, trainer Nick Gifford
- 2006 – Jazz Messenger – jockey Niall Madden, trainer Noel Meade
- 2005 – Feathard Lady – jockey Ruby Walsh, trainer Colm Murphy
The Christmas Hurdle is scheduled to take place on Boxing Day each year, during the King George VI Chase meeting. It is a Grade 1 National Hunt hurdle race and is open to horses aged four years and over. It is contested over a two mile distance with a total of eight hurdles to be jumped throughout its duration.
It is an event held at Kempton Park and has been ever since its creation back in 1969. Prior to this particular race being founded, Kempton Park held host to the Kempton Park Handicap Hurdle, which was a two-mile long handicap race held on Boxing Day. It was abandoned in the two years preceding the emergence of it in its current form, the Christmas Hurdle.
The Christmas Hurdle is the second race in the WBX Hurdling Triple Crown, and has been since 2006. This scheme offers a £1,000,000 prize as a reward to any horse to win the Fighting Fifth Hurdle, the Christmas Hurdle and the Champion Hurdle in the same season.
This race has a particular history of having many of its victors continuing on to gain victory in the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. The first of the horses to achieve this dual-triumph was Lanzarote; he won this event in 1973 and 1975, as well as the Champion Hurdle in 1974.
The most recent achiever of this feat was the brilliant Faugheen over the 2014-2015 season. Although six horses have won the Christmas Hurdle twice each, no horse has ever managed to go on and win this race on three separate occasions. The first horse to win this one twice was named Coral Driver, who managed his second win back in 1971 after a previous success in 1969. The most recent two-time winner was Binocular, who was consecutively triumphant in 2010 and 2011.
Binocular had a great impact however in ensuring that one trainer and one jockey stand above the rest in the entirety of this event’s history, and these are the mighty A P McCoy and Nicky Henderson. A P McCoy holds the record for the most successes for a jockey in the Christmas Hurdle after achieving his fifth win in 2013 in the saddle of My Tent Or Yours.
This victory in 2013, and the two on the back of Binocular, is three of the total of four victories that McCoy and trainer Nicky Henderson share. This trainer-jockey partnership were victorious in 2012 also, with Darlan, meaning that they won the race together for four consecutive years. Henderson has hadmore victories in 2000 and 2001 and then in 2017 and 2018 as well to take him to a total of eight wins in this event.