It’s a race that attracts the best two-mile hurdlers in the business - the Lionel Messi’s of football or the Jonathan Davies of Rugby Union – and in The Betway Kingwell Hurdle they’ll be putting their Championship credentials on the line ahead of the The Festival™ presented by Magners.
The last horse to win The Betway Kingwell Hurdle before going onto Cheltenham Festival glory was the diminutive Katchit in 2008. With a role call of winners that reads like a who’s who of racing – Inglis Drever, Bula, Lanzarote, Yanworth, Binocular, Hors La Loi III - it’s no surprise that the race is held in the highest regard by jockeys and trainers alike.
The seven-time champion jockey John Francome won the race in 1976 on Lanzarote, and Richard Pitman’s steered Bula to victory in 1971 and was on Lanzarote when he won in 1974 and 1975. More recently, Jeremy Scott saddled Melodic Rendezvous to win in 2014.
Paul Nicholls, who has saddled the winner three times, said: “It’s a good race at the right time of year and a great for Somerset racegoers to see horses of this calibre on their doorstep. It was a sweet day when Rigmarole won in 2004 as he was owned by the then Wincanton Chairman Mark Woodhouse.”
Whoever lifts The Kingwell Hurdle crown, another great name will be added to the annals as Somerset plays it part in creating racing history.