All you need to know about the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham Racecourse on March 13.
When and where can I watch the Fred Winter? 4.50pm Cheltenham, March 13. Live on Racing TV in stunning HD.
Which Grade? Grade Three. Which Course? Old Course. What Distance? 2m 1/2f (8 hurdles)
How much prize-money? £80,000. Ages: 4yo only. Weights & Allowances: Handicap
Key Statistics and Trends:
Six of the past eight winners were sent off 25-1 or bigger. Veneer Of Charm was 33-1 last year.
Thirteen of the 14 winners of the race were officially rated between 124 and 134 (What A Charm rated just 115 in 2011).
Only five of the 14 winners had won on either of their first two starts over hurdles.
Ten of the last 14 had run in the previous 25 days.
Paul Nicholls has targeted this race in recent years (often with French-bred horses), saddling the first two home in 2016 and 2015, while his Katgary was an unfortunate loser (second) in 2014. Meanwhile, at the other end of the spectrum, Willie Mullins has drawn a blank - he is 0-12 with his runners.
Eight of the 14 winners were either French-bred or imports.
Four of the 14 winners were wearing headgear but only Flaxen Flare in 2011 was wearing it (blinkers) for the first time.
Not one of the 14 winners had won more than one race that season before the Festival. A key stat!
Race history and closing stages:
The Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle commemorates one of the greatest figures in the history of Jump Racing, both as a jockey and trainer.
Fred Winter, who died aged 77 in April, 2004, was champion jump jockey four times champion jump trainer on eight occasions. He saddled four Champion Hurdle winners as a trainer (1971 and 1972 Bula, 1974 Lanzarote, 1988 Celtic Shot) and, although the Cheltenham Gold Cup proved elusive for a long while, he finally landed the feature chase in 1978 with Midnight Court.
He saddled a total of 28 Festival winners and holds the unique feat of having been the only man to have both ridden and trained winners of the Cheltenham Gold Cup and Champion Hurdle.
The Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle, run over an extended two miles, was one of the new races introduced to The Festival in 2005 when the meeting was extended from three to four days.
The inaugural running went to Dabiroun, partnered by amateur rider Nina Carberry. Carberry became the second female jockey to win a Festival race other than the Foxhunter Chase, following on from Gee Armytage.
Trainer David Pipe enjoyed his first Festival success in 2007 with Gaspara, who also netted a £75,000 bonus put up by bookmaker Sunderlands for any horse that landed the Imperial Cup and a race at The Festival. For good measure, his father Martin owned the filly.
Last five winners:
2018 - Veneer Of Charm
The Fast Company gelding boasted plenty of Flat racing experience and, on his fourth start over hurdles, was well on top at the line despite his 33-1 starting price for jockey Jack Kennedy and trainer Gordon Elliott.
The victory brought up a day-two treble for Elliott, who would go on to be top trainer at the Cheltenham Festival for the first time.
“Last night I was trying to get a Ryanair flight home,” said Elliott after a surprising reverse for Apple’s Jade 24 hours earlier in the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle. “I was in bed by 9.30pm, but it won’t be the same tonight.”
2017 - Flying Tiger:
Nick Williams finally got to celebrate his first Cheltenham Festival winner when Flying Tiger went two places better than stablemate Coo Star Sivola had managed the previous season with a barnstorming finish from the home turn to get up close home under a determined Richard Johnson.
Flying Tiger had raced quite freely through the early stages of the contest but once settled, he got the strong pace he thrived off.
Although he was disappointing in the Adonis Hurdle at Kempton the previous month, he finally delivered on the promise he had shown earlier in his career in France as he pipped Divin Bere and Nietzsche.
2016 - Diego Du Charmil:
Diego Du Charmil was having his first start since November and made his debut for Paul Nicholls but there had been a buzz about this horse for some time after he apparently worked very well with leading Triumph Hurdle fancy Zubayr.
Produced to perfection on the day, the French-bred gelding stayed on strongly under Sam Twiston-Davies to hold off the challenge from stablemate Romain De Senam but the result could have been very different had the strong-travelling Voix Du Reve not crashed out when about to launch his challenge at the last.
Diego Du Charmil has gone on to have a reasonable career in handicap hurdles and over fences.
2015 - Qualando:
Qualando had won only an ordinary novices’ hurdle at Exeter in the build up to Cheltenham (hence his 25-1 starting price) but he took a major step forward from anything he had done previously on his first run on a sound surface.
A strong stayer at the trip, Qualando saw his race out best of all from the last to lead home a stable one-two (Paul Nicholls also saddled the fifth) and it looked at that time that he was sure to find further big race success, especially over slightly further, but Qualando has left Ditcheat and is not covering himself in similar glory.
2014 - Hawk High:
Despite a Flat pedigree, jumping was always on the agenda for Hawk High according to trainer Tim Easterby, who said after his Fred Winter success: “I'm delighted. He was bred by his owner and as soon as we got him as a two-year-old I had jumping in mind for him.”
Hawk High avoided the fall of Clarcam at the second-last but a notable sufferer was eventual runner-up Katgary, who had to go down as an unlucky loser.
Hawk High tried his luck in Grade One company at Aintree the following month but was put firmly in his place.
2013 - Flaxen Flare:
Gordon Elliott’s sole success in this race came in 2013 when Flaxen Flare, sporting a pair of blinkers for the first time, produced one of the most dominant performances ever seen in this traditionally competitive contest.
Davy Condon had not asked his mount for any serious effort when the pair found themselves in front just after the second-last and he only needed pushing out to clear away and trounce a competitive field.
It was a performance so emphatic that his mark was subsequently hiked up by a full stone and Graded success looked a formality going forward, but it was not to be.
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