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Coral Hurdle - 22nd November, 2014

Faugheen was a phenomenal winner of the Neptune Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March and the Willie Mullins-trained star will put his unbeaten record on the line on Saturday afternoon when going off a red-hot favourite for the Coral Hurdle.

A four-and-a-half length winner at the Prestbury Park extravaganza, the six-year-old was then a facile 12-length winner of the Champion Novice Hurdle at the Punchestown Festival and he is expected to be a premier Champion Hurdle contender come the spring.

He is miles ahead of his rivals on paper and if he takes his chance he will be very tough to beat, but he should face some decent opposition in this contest that was won last season by his stablemate Annie Power, who went on to finish second in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle.

Paul Nicholls's Lac Fontana was a fine winner of the County Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and then impressed when winning the Mersey Novices' Hurdle at Aintree a month later, but he will need to show even more improvement if he is to challenge the red-hot jolly on Saturday.

On a cracking card that will see the Amlin 1965 Chase also take place at Ascot, Nicky Henderson's Blue Fashion will make his first start for a year and will aim to build on an excellent second place behind World Hurdle hero More Of That, whilst the likes of Ballyglasheen and Hint Of Mint add more depth to the race.

Latest Betting for 2014 Coral Hurdle

1/3 Faugheen

5/1 Lac Fontana

6/1 Blue Fashion

25/1 Hint Of Mint

33/1 Ballyglasheen

40/1 First Avenue

200/1 Houseparty

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Coral Hurdle History

The Ascot Hurdle is a Grade Two race run at Ascot over two miles, three-and-a-half furlongs for horses aged four years or older.

Run at the beginning of the national hunt season, the Ascot Hurdle has always attracted a stellar line-up who often use the race as a springboard to greater success and some are often seen contesting either the Champion Hurdle or the World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

In 1983, an up-and-coming five-year-old named Dawn Run won the Ascot Hurdle before becoming one of the greatest national hunt horses in living memory.  After winning this contest for trainer Paddy Mullins she then headed to the Cheltenham Festival and won the 1984 Champion Hurdle.

That was just the start of her epci career as she was then sent over the larger obstacles and in 1986 became a household name by winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup, to become the first horse to manage the feat of doing the Champion Hurdle, Gold Cup double.

Other horses that have managed to use the Ascot Hurdle as a stepping stone to Champion Hurdle glory include Morley Street, who was a dual winner of this contest in 1990 and 1991 having already won the 1991 Champion Hurdle.

Hardy Eustace was the last Champion hurdler to have lifted the Ascot Hurdle crown as after he had won back-to-back Cheltenham Festival showpieces in 2004 and 2005, he maintained his top class form by winning this in 2006 and 2007.

It's not only the speedsters that can utilise this race for greater things as the Francois Doumen-trained staying phenomenon Baracouda showed in the early 2000's.  The French raider won this contest in 2001 and ventured on to Prestbury Park the following year to win the World Hurdle and emphasised his domination by emulating that double the following season to become one of the greatest staying hurdlers of all time.

Recent Winners of Ascot Hurdle

  • 2000 - Kates Charm
  • 2001 - Baracouda
  • 2002 - Baracouda
  • 2003 - Mr Cool
  • 2004 - Monet's Garden
  • 2005 - No Refuge
  • 2006 - Hardy Eustace
  • 2007 - Hardy Eustace
  • 2008 - Chomba Womba
  • 2009 - Zaynar
  • 2010 - Silviniaco Conti
  • 2011 - Overturn
  • 2012 - Oscar Whisky
  • 2013 - Annie Power
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