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GG Top 10 Hurdlers – March 2024

constitution hill

We announced our inaugural top 10 chasers according to GG experts earlier this week. Now it is the time of the top 10 hurdlers. Running the rule over those proved difficult, but our selections below highlight plenty of form outside of the Cheltenham Festival as well.

1. Constitution Hill

The Cheltenham Festival only served to heighten the mythology surrounding Constitution Hill, who missed out on a defence of his Champion Hurdle title through illness. His Irish equivalent State Man, who he beat by nine lengths just over a year ago, inherited strong favouritism and the race as a result.

If this list were based on this season alone, it would be difficult to justify his position atop this list, though even then he would be close based on his demolition job in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton, his only appearance. However, it would be disingenuous to ignore him; he is quite simply the best hurdler there is and only connections of Galopin Des Champs in either code could realistically claim their horse is anywhere near his equal.

2. State Man

State Man (left) emerged partially from Constitution Hill’s shadow with victory in the 2024 Champion Hurdle.

It can often prove to be the making of a champion that they step forward in the absence of a superstar. The likes of Azertyuiop and Sire De Grugy won Champion Chases when Moscow Flyer and Sprinter Sacre paved the way through spills or injuries and State Man made sure not to fluff his lines in this year’s Champion Hurdle.

For the purposes of this list, he is ranked where he would be anyway. He has only ever been beaten by one horse since falling on debut, with that horse the number one here. State Man exists in parallel realities of being an unbeatable champion as well as one unable to land even the softest blow to an all time great. He will take some shaking from this spot in the near future.

3. Lossiemouth

The mares’ division will always be the poor relation of any championship race, but Lossiemouth’s performance was arguably the best of the week over the smaller obstacles. She won her race imperiously, but whether that justified connections’ decision to stick to the Mares’ Hurdle rather than take a chance in the Champion Hurdle is debatable.

Nevertheless, she made it two from two for the season, both wins coming in outstanding fashion. Punchestown may well see her try and usurp her stablemate State Man, something many have tried and failed in the last two seasons, but she looks the most worthy of giving it a go.

4. Ballyburn

For a novice to rank this high, especially when he only ran in a seven-runner race, should take some doing, but Ballyburn looks an exceptional talent. His victory in the Gallagher Novices’ Hurdle paves the way for further novice success before a tough decision over the summer as to whether hurdles remain the plan, or a novice chasing season awaits.

5. Teahupoo

Teahupoo was winning for the first time at the Cheltenham Festival when claiming the 2024 Stayers’ Hurdle.

The Stayers’ Hurdle is not a race to provide either the aim or birth of a star, but there is no doubt Teahupoo is comfortably the best of those competing over 3m over timber. He should probably have brought two Stayers’ Hurdle trophies back for owners Robcour, but he can easily set that right in a year’s time without many obvious challengers having emerged this term.

6. Irish Point

One such challenger could be stablemate Irish Point, who was rerouted opportunistically to the Champion Hurdle to further clear the way for Teahupoo in the Stayers. He gave valiant chase to State Man up the Cheltenham Hill over the 2m trip, which is short of his optimum, and his versatility and talent could well see him rack up a haul of top level victories just yet.

7. Bob Olinger

An absentee at the Festival but not at Cheltenham this season, Bob Olinger has enjoyed a renaissance of sorts in 2023/24. With 2m4f being his ideal distance, there is no race which would have ideally suited him at Cheltenham, but his Grade 2 Relkeel Hurdle victory coupled with a runner-up effort to State Man in the Irish Champion Hurdle means his earned his way into the top ten.

8. Impaire Et Passe

Impaire Et Passe
Impaire Et Passe skipped Cheltenham, but could yet come good with his promise over hurdles.

Had this top ten begun in October, Impaire Et Passe would almost certainly have been on the podium. While it has undoubtedly been a disappointing few months for connections with their 2023 Baring Bingham winner, he has only been beaten to the line by Teahupoo, State Man and Bob Olinger. He has not faced his optimum conditions this term either.

9. Monkfish

Although he was granted one last chance to run in a Gold Cup, Monkfish’s return to the National Hunt scene truly came over hurdles this term. He ran away with the Grade 2 Galmoy Hurdle and that is probably in the top three performances over 3m this season. He could yet have a say in the hurdling division in the future.

10. Pied Piper

With honourable mentions to the likes of Slade Steel and Telmesomethinggirl, it feels remiss to ignore the handicap effort of Pied Piper in the County Hurdle, in which he was by far and away the winner at the weights when third off a mark of 156. He may not quite be Grade 1 standard, but neither are those who narrowly missed out on this list.

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