Contenders Hurdle - 31st January, 2015

Nigel Twiston-Davies's Bristol De Mai produced a sparkling effort on his British debut and the exciting four-year-old will attempt to build on that on Saturday afternoon when he lines up in a fascinating renewal of the Contenders Hurdle at Sandown Park.

He is already a prominent figure for the Triumph Hurdle, but with the same connections owning hot favourite Peace And Co it's not sure where he will head in the future, however, if he wins this race with aplomb then they will certainly be aiming for the top.

He will need to build on that Chepstow success as he will face a real stiff test against firstly Harry Fry's Jollyallan, who is going in search of his fourth win on the bounce and has be touted as a potential Supreme Novices' Hurdle contender at the Cheltenham Festival.

Philip Hobbs's Garde La Victoire was a fine winner of the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham earlier in the season and he has been running some superb races off big weights all season and he's sure to test out the resolve of his two main rivals.

He will need to give weight away to his adversaries, but he's sure to make it a real test of stamina and with Flute Bowl completing the line-up it's sure to be one of the most fascinating National Hunt races taking place this weekend in the UK.

Contenders Hurdle History

The Contenders Hurdle is a Listed race run at Sandown Park over two miles and 110 yards for horses aged five years or older and is widely regarded as a trial for the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

Originally known as the Oteley Hurdle this race has attracted some of the leading national hunt names in recent memories with the likes of Lanzarote and Sea Pigeon bagging glory in the 1970's, whilst See You Then and the great Desert Orchid were victorious in the 1980's.

So, it's always been abundantly clear that this race can unearth potential superstars and is often used as a springboard to the Cheltenham Festival as the aforementioned quartet have all ventured on to Prestbury Park for festival success.

During the 1990's and the majority of the 2000's it was known as the Agfa hurdle and was still a port of call for many trainers who wanted a prep run before the Champion Hurdle and the illustrious roll of honour continued.

Philip Hobbs' Rooster Booster had already won the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle and the Bula Hurdle before he won the 2003 Agfa Hurdle and continued his imperious form by going on to Champion Hurdle glory the same year.

Detroit City was another who headed to Sandown in fine fettle following multiple wins at Cheltenham in the Triumph Hurdle, Greatwood and International Hurdle, but Hobbs' likeable grey failed to bag Champion Hurdle glory in March finishing sixth to Sublimity, when sent off 6/4 favourite.

Nicky Henderson's Binocular was sent off a 1/7 favourite for the 2010 Contenders Hurdle and sauntered to victory before going on to the Festival and producing a mesmeric performance to win the Champion Hurdle.

Recent Winners of Contenders Hurdle

  • 2000 - Auetaler
  • 2001 - Teaatral
  • 2002 - Bilboa
  • 2003 - Rooster Booster
  • 2004 - Rhinestone Cowboy
  • 2005 - Self Defense
  • 2006 - Royal Shakespeare
  • 2007 - Detroit City
  • 2008 - Afsoun
  • 2009 - Celestial Halo
  • 2010 - Binocular
  • 2011 - Binocular
  • 2012 - No Race
  • 2014 - No Race

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