Cleeve Hurdle - 24th January, 2015

Saphir Du Rheu was last seen falling in the Kauto Star Novices' Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day and now Paul Nicholls has elected to send his six-year-old back over hurdles and he will head to Cheltenham's Festival Trials Day on Saturday for a top notch renewal of the Cleeve Hurdle.

A premier trial for the Ladbrokes World Hurdle, a host of star names are aiming to enhance their staying claims for the festival and 2013 winner Reve De Sivola will aim to recapture the crown he won a couple of years ago and he showed with a gutsy win in the Long Walk Hurdle that he still oozes class at this level.

Un Temps Pour Tout is a fascinating runner for the David Pipe team and he has the scope for major improvement this term and will be another that excels over this three-mile trip, whilst Cole Harden has progressed with aplomb this season and is entitled to have another crack in this sort of event.

Olofi and The Druids Nephew will complete the six-strong field and both of those will have their work cut out at this top notch level with the latter potentially aiming to use his superb stamina to reel in the slow finishers at the end of the energy-sapping distance.

Latest Betting For 2015 Cleeve Hurdle

15/8 Saphir Du Rheu

5/2 Un Temps Pour Tout

7/2 Cole Harden

5/1 Reve De Sivola

20/1 Olofi

25/1 The Druids Nephew

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Cleeve Hurdle History

The Cleeve Hurdle is a Grade Two race run at Cheltenham over three miles for horses aged five years or older and is widely regarded as a trial for the World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

Having originally be run over a distance of two-and-a-half miles it was then extended to its current distance in 2005 and is now one of the highlights of the staying hurdle sphere as it attracts some top class contenders annually.

Lady Rebecca is one name that instantly jumps out of the roll of honour as Venetia Williams' wonder mare managed to win the race three years running between 1999 and 2001 to cement her place as a Cleeve legend.

However, it would be the new Millennium that this race would really ignite and the winners in recent years of the Cleeve Hurdle have used it as a stepping stone to World Hurdle glory two months later at the Cheltenham Festival.

Inglis Drever was an emphatic five length winner of the 2008 renewal and went on to secure his third World Hurdle title at the festival after winning the staying hurdle title in 2005 and 2006 for trainer Howard Johnson.

Nevertheless, it wasn't long until a new star would emerge and after Paul Nicholls elected to send Big Buck's back to hurdles after his Hennessy fall he burst on to the three mile hurdling scene with a four length success in the 2009 Cleeve Hurdle beating Punchestowns.

Nicholls' phenomenon then proceeded to storm to glory in the 2009 World Hurdle before notching up another brace of festival successes in the 2010 and 2011 renewal.

Grands Crus was sent off a 2/1 favourite for the 2011 contest and David Pipe's grey merely annihilated a strong field to win by ten lengths, but he couldn't quite make the step up to Big Buck's level as he just fell short when finishing second in the World Hurdle back at Prestbury Park.

Recent Winners of Cleeve Hurdle

  • 2000 - Lady Rebecca
  • 2001 - Lady Rebecca
  • 2002 - Kates Charm
  • 2003 - Classified
  • 2004 - Crystal d'Ainay
  • 2005 - Patriarch Express
  • 2006 - Fire Dragon
  • 2007 - Blazing Bailey
  • 2008 - Inglis Drever
  • 2009 - Big Buck's
  • 2010 - Tidal Bay
  • 2011 - Grands Crus
  • 2012 - Big Buck's
  • 2013 - Reve De Sivola
  • 2014 - Knockara Beau
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