Solwhit landed another Grade One prize as the Charles Byrnes-trained raider landed the Ladbrokes World Hurdle, as he fended off a spirited effort from 40/1 outsider Celestial Halo in what was a relatively shock result on the third day of the Cheltenham Festival.
Market leaders Oscar Whisky and Reve De Sivola were never able to land a blow in the closing stages and it was left to 2m specialists to battle it out and a last flight blunder from Celestial Halo that handed the momentum to Solwhit who stayed on better to land the spoils at 17/2 to bag another winner for the Irish.
15:20 Ladbrokes World Hurdle (Grade 1) (Class 1, 3m)
1. Solwhit - P Carberry - C Byrnes 17/2
2. Celestial Halo - D A Jacob - P F Nicholls 40/1
3. Smad Place - W Hutchinson - A King 9/1
The World Hurdle has developed into one of the feature races of the Cheltenham Festival in recent years and is the highlight of the season for the staying hurdlers, it is run over 3 miles so the runners will need to have plenty of stamina in the locker up the hill at Prestbury Park.
The race has thrown up some great winners down the years and particularly in recent times there have been some legendary multiple winners of the World Hurdle as the race and the Festival as a whole continues to attract massive public attention. It has only been run under its present guise since 1972, and it was moved to the Thursday of the Cheltenham Festival in 1993 which is where it has stayed ever since.
There are three horses that have dominated the World Hurdle since the turn of the century and they are the great Baracouda, Inglis Drever and Big Buck’s, each of these three great horses have dominated the race over the past ten years and will be remembered as legends of the staying hurdle division.
Baracouda was a French trained horse owned by JP McManus and he made the race his own in 2002 and 2003 with two scintillating performances. He was a horse that lit up Cheltenham on his best form and another one under that banner was Inglis Drever who won the World Hurdle three times for Howard Johnson, he won in 2005 before returning in 2007 and 2008 to claim an unprecedented hat trick of wins.
Inglis Drever developed a great rapport with the punters at Cheltenham with his heart and spirit there for all to see up the Cheltenham hill, any horse that wins the World Hurdle will need to have the will to win and Inglis Drever had it in bucket loads.
The current king of the World Hurdle is Big Buck’s who since turning to hurdles has never been beaten and shows no sign of slowing down; he is full of class and is one of the stars of the National Hunt scene at the moment for Champion Trainer Paul Nicholls.
He has simply been too good for the field in 2009 and 2010 and in doing so has brought the race right to the forefront of the sport, carrying on the baton from Inglis Drever and Baracouda earlier in the decade.
Along with the Champion Hurdle, the Champion Chase and the Gold Cup the World Hurdle is one of the four Championship races at the Cheltenham Festival and it has proven to be one of the most exciting and important races of the season.
No doubt the 2012/2013 season will unearth some young pretenders who will be looking for Big Buck's crown and we will be keeping in touch with the latest form guides for the three mile contest. Nearer the race we will also be providing a list of runners for the 2013 race.
Cleeve Hurdle (Cheltenham)
Galmoy Hurdle (Gowran Park)
Ascot Hurdle (Ascot)
Long Walk Hurdle (Ascot)
Long Distance Hurdle (Newbury)
Hatton's Grace Hurdle (Fairyhouse)