Saturday 10 March 2018

Cheltenham Festival - Baring Bingham Novices’ Hurdle

The second day of the Cheltenham Festival races kicks off with the Baring Bingham Novices’ Hurdle, a National Hunt grade 1 race that brings together racehorses of a minimum four years of age. The horses compete to complete a run of 4225 metres (2 mi 5 furlongs) with ten hurdles forming jump obstacles on their way. Just as the
name suggests, the race is strictly meant for amateur hurdlers.

It is named in honour of Baring Bingham, the first Cheltenham festival’s organizer, and is run on the
Old Course. Bingham’s contribution to the horseracing British culture remains tellable to date, with many of the early features of the competition still recognizable at the festival.

The competition takes place on a left-handed turf surface. Here, horses compete for the over £120,000 purse prize on offer. A first place on the podium fetches up to £68,340. The race has gamblers placing stakes on multiple combinations of results and consequently a large number of viewers in the viewing area.

It was first held in the 1971 festival, during which it was named the Aldsworth Hurdle.’ The name has changed severally from then on since sponsors began picking up event. Sun Alliance’s sponsorship (1974-2006) was the longest stint by a single sponsor. Consequently, many people who have followed the race over the years still have the name Sun Alliance Novices’ Hurdle stuck to their minds. Neptune Investment Managers are the current race sponsors.

 Ruby Walsh and Willie Mullins have completely dominated the Baring Bingham race as in the 21st century as jockey and trainer respectively. Ruby, a star jockey in various categories, rode Fiveforthree, Mikael d'Haguenet, Faugheen, and Yorkhill to victory in 2008, 2009, 2014 and 2016 respectively. All four horses were trained by Willie and were aged six years, save for Mikael who was five. David Bass-ridden Willoughby Court dethroned Yorkhill to finish first in 2017.

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