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We’ve reached our penultimate poll on our look back of the 2017/18 National Hunt season, a campaign that provided us with some stand-out hurdling performances. From Cheltenham to Punchestown there were stars wherever you looked towards the end of the season, with new faces serving it up to more established rivals. From improvers to known quantities, we asked out followers to vote on who they thought the best hurdler of the 2017/18 National Hunt season was and the results are down below! In our previous poll we looked at the best race of the season and the results can be found on site now!
It’s little surprise that the list is topped by the two-time Champion Hurdle winner Buveur D’Air, who was simply a class apart in the two-mile hurdling division this season. Winning all four of his starts including three Grade 1s, he was sent off a warm 4/6 favourite to retain the Champion Hurdle crown he’d won so imperiously twelve months prior at the Cheltenham Festival. He had to battle much harder for it this season, but his class and tenacity got him home for a neck success. He quite simply is the whole package and that run proved it, deservedly ranked as the top hurdler of 2017/18.
Some nicknamed him an aeroplane, others quite simply regarded him as a monster. Whatever you called him, there was no denying that Samcro was devastating last season. Winning his first two hurdling starts with consummate ease, he would add Grade 1 glory to his profile when scoring readily at Leopardstown in February. It was of no surprise when he skipped past his rivals just a month later to win the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at the Festival, truly announcing him as a superstar in the making. His unbeaten record did come to an end at Punchestown last month, but he was still travelling well when falling and that run did little to dent his lofty reputation. Next season will be the real test, but there is a big suspicion he’ll pass it with flying colours.
You struggle for superlatives when you see a horse like Laurina, who has looked a class apart in the mares division this season and she’s only a five-year-old. Winner of her first two starts for Willie Mullins after joining from France, she was sent off 4/7 at the Festival to win the Grade 2 Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle and it was quite simply a devastating performance. She coasted clear on the bridle between the final two flights and stormed home for an eighteen length success in ominous style, much like Quevega had done for many years. Winning a Grade 1 at Punchestown to back up that effort in April, she is the mare to watch next season as she comes up against the more established names.
The second entry for Nicky Henderson on this list, We Have A Dream remained unbeaten in five British starts last season, including two Grade 1 victories. One of the favourites in the Triumph Hurdle market, he would miss that race due to a setback and we eagerly anticipated his return at Aintree to see just how good this son of Martaline really was. The answer was potentially very smart, bursting clear of his rivals after two out to score by a very cosy seven lengths. He’s a horse who should excel over fences looking at his stature and as a two-time Grade 1 winner as a hurdling novice, the sky is the limit for this unbeaten machine, wherever he goes.
Image © Racing Post/Patrick McCann