Recapping the last four winners of the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle
There is such a big onus on the Cheltenham Festival in this day and age of jumps racing.
We must admit, it’s hard to beat the electric atmosphere and thrills of those four days in the Cotswolds each March, but the sport has so much to offer aside from the Festival.
Even at Prestbury Park, where the upcoming Cheltenham November Meeting is one of the standout meetings and a fantastic opportunity to visit the home of jumps racing.
Taking place over three days from 17-19 November, the meeting features several Grade 2s, Premier Handicaps and Listed contests.
Two of the biggest races are the Paddy Power Gold Cup on Day Two, and the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle on Day Three.
It’s the latter we are going to focus on here.
Kerry Lee’s Nemean Lion is the favourite for the two-mile and half-a-furlong contest in the Cheltenham November Meeting odds, but he will face competition from the top yards – with the highly-rated Luccia representing Nicky Henderson and the Paul Nicholls-trained Blueking D’Oroux being a recent course and distance winner.
So, as we look ahead to the 2023 renewal of the Premier Handicap, let’s take a look back at the last four winners of the contest.
2022: I Like To Move It
Gin Coco headed down for starter’s orders as the 4/1 favourite in the race odds for last year’s Greatwood Handicap Hurdle, but the Harry Fry-trained horse could only finish a distant second to I Like To Move It.
The Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained five-year-old was fancied at 17/2 before the off but set much of the pace throughout, and won going away from Gin Coco to land a five-and-a-half-length victory despite being the top weight.
2021: West Cork
2021 saw Dan Skelton land his maiden Greatwood Handicap Hurdle, with West Cork landing the Warwickshire-based trainer the spoils from outside odds.
West Cork had a decent season as a novice hurdler the year prior, with two wins and three seconds, but was priced at 11/1 to win this race on his reappearance and first time in this company.
He started making smooth headway three out and led approaching the last. Harry Skelton dropped the whip on the run, but West Cork kept on well by itself to win narrowly from Adagio.
2020: The Shunter
The Shunter was the winner of the 2020 renewal, giving Emmet Mullins one of his first major successes following his transition from jockey to trainer.
The then seven-year-old has some good form in the build-up to the Greatwood, winning a Maiden Hurdle at Downpatrick in September before back-to-back victories over fences at Punchestown and Cork.
He returned over the smaller obstacles for this, and The Shunter (13/2) rallied back before the last after losing a bit of ground a few hurdles earlier to win by a clear three lengths from Ballyandy.
While his victory wasn’t quite as big of a shock as Nietzsche’s win from 20/1 in 2018, Harambe still caused a stir when winning the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle from 16/1 four years ago.
The eight-year-old had a good start to the year with two wins at Kempton and Market Rasen before finishing in the Novices’ Championship Final at Sandown in April.
However, he appeared to find Grade 2 company too strong at Chepstow when well beaten back in seventh on reappearance in October.
That would have played a huge role in the bookies pricing Harambe at 16/1 for this race, but he jumped into fourth at the last and ran on well to win by a neck from Gumball.