01 February 2019
The Champion Hurdle contender Verdana Blue heads a list of 12 Hereford winners entered for the most prestigious races at the Cheltenham Festival. The seven-year-old mare won here on only her second start over hurdles. Despite beating the reigning champion Buveur D’Air in Kempton’s Christmas Hurdle she is as long as 12/1 for the Festival’s opening day highlight, which is usually run on her preferred good going.
An even likelier prospect for Cheltenham glory is Paisley Park, currently the clear 5/2 favourite for the Stayers’ Hurdle. He has never stopped improving after his maiden hurdle win here in December 2017 and Festival success would be a fairy-tale story for his owner Andrew Gemmell, who has been blind since birth.
|Horse||Race||Trainer||Hereford win dates|
|Atlanta Ablaze||National Hunt Chase||Henry Daly||16-Oct-18|
|Brewin’Upastorm||Supreme Novices' Hurdle||Olly Murphy||16-Jan-18|
|Brewin’Upastorm||Ballymore Novices' Hurdle||Olly Murphy||16-Jan-18|
|Drovers Lane||National Hunt Chase||Rebecca Curtis||16-Oct-18|
|Drovers Lane||RSA Novices' Chase||Rebecca Curtis||16-Oct-18|
|Drovers Lane||JLT Novices' Chase||Rebecca Curtis||16-Oct-18|
|Geordie B||Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle||Venetia Williams||10-Apr-18|
|Giving Glances||Triumph Hurdle||Alan King||19-Nov-18|
|Just Your Type||National Hunt Chase||Charlie Longsdon||10-Mar-18|
|Keeper Hill||Stayers' Hurdle||Warren Greatrex||04-Jan-17|
|Liberty Bella||OLBG Mares' Hurdle||Brian Eckley||02-Jan-19|
|Paisley Park||Stayers' Hurdle||Emma Lavelle||16-Dec-17|
|Star Of Lanka||Ballymore Novices' Hurdle||Warren Greatrex||28-Nov-18 & 15-Dec-18|
|Star Of Lanka||Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle||Warren Greatrex||28-Nov-18 & 15-Dec-18|
|Verdana Blue||Champion Hurdle||Nicky Henderson||04-Jan-17|
|Yalltari||National Hunt Chase||Venetia Williams||16-Dec-17|
|Yalltari||RSA Novices' Chase||Venetia Williams||16-Dec-17|
The policy of trainers bringing their young horses to Hereford to get their careers underway has paid dividends in many cases, as they have progressed and won more races at the bigger courses.
Other examples of this include Brewin’Upastorm, who took a bumper here a year ago and this season has become one of the leading two and a half mile novice hurdlers. He had a slight lead when falling at the last at Cheltenham’s Ballymore Trial race at the end of January, and is third favourite for the Ballymore itself.
Our local trainer Venetia Williams has entered her novice chaser Yalltari in the RSA over three miles and the National Hunt Chase over four. His win here in December 2017 was the first of three races last season in which he was unbeaten. She also has last spring’s bumper winner Geordie B in the Albert Bartlett over three miles.
Star Of Lanka, twice a winner here in the latter part of 2018, has the option of going for either the Ballymore or the Albert Bartlett.
Liberty Bella won here in January for her Brecon-based owner-trainer-breeder Brian Eckley, who only has four or five horses in training. She is entered for the Mares’ Hurdle, and though she’ll be up against the bluebloods from the top stables, as so often in racing, nothing ventured, nothing gained.
There's more racing coming up at Hereford ahead of this year's Cheltenham Festival with the Hereford FC Youth Academy Raceday on Monday 11 February, followed Ladies' Day on Saturday 9 March. Tickets and hospitality are available for both fixtures here.