Although the main focus of Boxing Day racing is the King George VI Chase, the Christmas Hurdle is another key Grade 1 contest that gives us clues as to the contenders for the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham in March. A race the Irish have targeted in recent years, this year’s renewal doesn’t promise to be competitive as the race revolves around one singular horse, who heads the market at 2/9. That said, there are still trends we can look at to try and help us deduce the winner and we believe we’ve found the key statistics below.
- Fitness is crucial – Thirteen of the past fifteen winners all were fit from a run at least six weeks before Boxing Day
- Market speaks volumes – Eight of the past fifteen renewals have been won by the favourite
- If the price is short, then take note – Twelve of the past fifteen winners returned 11/4 or shorter in the betting
- Fighting Fifth preparation – Seven of the past fifteen renewals have been won by a horse who competed in the Fighting Fifth on their previous start
- Class does tend to show – Since 2007 only two horses have won this race who were rated under 160
The form already suggests it, but the trends just further back up the claims of Buveur D’Air, who is the highest rated of these by six pounds and upwards. He was last seen winning the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle and is a general 2/9 to win the contest. With history favouring those at short prices in this race, it almost bulletproofs his claims.
You’d be stretching the truth if you were to say this is a competitive renewal of the Christmas Hurdle, with Buveur D’Air a general 2/9 favourite to land the spoils. If previous renewals are anything to go by, the record for favourites is also very comforting if you’re to be playing at this very short price, as eight of the past fifteen have gone on to score. It’s also interesting to note that the Henderson trained six year old was the only runner in this field to compete in the Fighting Fifth last time out, which is another feather in his cap if history is anything to go by.
In terms of fitness, there is no horse you can rule out but if we look at ratings then three horses look even more vulnerable than they already do. Since 2007 only two horses have won this race who were rated 160 or lower, which makes the tasks of Old Guard, Mohaayed and Chesterfield even more tough. The New One on paper is the only horse who can realistically serve it up to Buveur D’Air, but he’s been well held by that rival on multiple occasions and shouldn’t be good enough to turn the tables.