Christmas Hurdle 2021 Runners Guide & Tips

Christmas Hurdle Runners: Epatante is one of five lining up for the Grade 1 prize.
Christmas Hurdle Runners: Epatante is one of five lining up for the Grade 1 prize.

The Christmas Hurdle is usually one of the showpiece races of the jam-packed festive period of racing, but this year it has attracted a low-key field compared to past renewals. Still, a Grade One is a Grade One and so we have taken a look through all the runners and riders for the 2 mile contest around Kempton...

1. Glory and Fortune – Stan Sheppard – Tom Lacey

Chalked up as the outsider of the field, and if truth be told it is easy to see why. This gelding has been performing admirably without troubling the winners in handicaps in recent times and taking this step up to Grade One company, even in a race as weak as this one, seems to be optimistic thinking from trainer Tom Lacey. On his last run he was tried at 2 miles and 4 furlongs but clearly his connections believe he is better off at the minimum trip. Last seen running over 2 miles back in the Greatwood Hurdle behind West Cork. Unless he has found bundles of improvement from somewhere, the best Glory and Fortune can hope for barring a raft of disappointments from the other runners is surely some minor place prize money.

2. Not So Sleepy - Jonathan Burke - Hughie Morrison

Another horse who could be described as an enigma is Not So Sleepy, the current second favourite for this contest. Throughout his career in both disciplines he has been accurately described as quirky by many due to his tendency to throw in the odd stinker here and there when not getting his own way off the front end. However, he arrives at Kempton off the back of a career best effort when dead heating with Epatante in the Fighting Fifth. It is not just the result that will encourage Not So Sleepy backers either, with his battling performance to reel in the mare dispelling any thoughts that he did not have the heart for a fight as he had previously indicated in his career. If Hughie Morrison has found the key to him and he replicates or even improves on his Newcastle run then he is a serious contender for this valuable prize.

3. Soaring Glory - Jonjo O'Neill JR - Jonjo O'Neill

Soaring Glory was many people’s idea of a lively Champion Hurdle outsider coming into this season after his storming Betfair Hurdle success last campaign before finding runaway Supreme winner Appreciate It too hot to handle at Cheltenham. His season got off to the perfect start with an impressive victory at Ascot, beating Leoncavallo by 2 and ¾ lengths, but his supporters in this race may have to forgive his last outing. He was chalked up as the 5/6 favourite to win a 4 runner contest at Newbury three weeks ago but ran in snatches and ended up last of the quartet behind Onefortheroad. He was only beaten just under 5 lengths but a repeat performance today will not be good enough and the O’Neill team will be hoping they have found the necessary improvement to bring Soaring Glory back to his best to have a fighting chance here.

4. Tritonic – Adrian Heskin – Alan King

Arguably the form horse of the race is Tritonic. Alan King’s runner was one of the talking horses of last season heading into the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham off the back of a host of impressive successes as a juvenile but was no match for Quilixios on the day and ended up fifth beaten 15 lengths. After a few mediocre runs on the flat he has returned to hurdling recently and any Grade One ambitions looked fanciful following two creditable but uninspiring defeats at Cheltenham. However, last weekend at Ascot he bounced back in style with a commanding success in the Betfair Exchange Trophy off 11 stone, defeating Onemorefortheroad by 2 and ¾ lengths. He looked back to his best in this race and the market spoke strongly for him beforehand, indicating King and his team felt they had found the key to the horse. If he can back up quickly for this race then he is potentially the biggest threat to Epatante and rates an intriguing outsider.  

5. Epatante – Nico De Boinville - Nicky Henderson

The 2019 Champion Hurdler is the rightful favourite on all known form and it was an encouraging run at Newcastle last time out when dead heating with one of this race’s rivals Not So Sleepy. While not back to her scintillating best, she jumped much better and with the confidence of that run behind her it would be somewhat disappointing to see her regress and not claim another Grade One prize in this race. Nico De Boinville replaces Aidan Coleman after the latter was critical of his own riding in The Fighting Fifth, and Henderson’s usual stable jockey will be hoping his ride has improved for her seasonal reappearance. The classy mare is certainly the one to beat and with defeat in this race last season seeming to signal the beginning of her unravelling it would be a great sight to behold to see her return to near her best and blow away her rivals and critics alike around a track that should suit.


Predicted 1-2-3

  1.  Epatante
  2. Tritonic
  3. Not So Sleepy
Christmas Hurdle
Epatante silk


Champion Hurdle Odds
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