The November Meeting at Cheltenham is what many pundits and punters alike consider to be the curtain-raiser of the jumps racing season.
Indeed, the iconic racecourse hosted the Showcase Meeting last month, which certainly didn’t disappoint and saw some of the top trainers from the United Kingdom and Ireland return to the Prestbury Park winner’s enclosure.
However, the Cheltenham November Meeting ramps it up a notch — with multiple Group 2s, Listed contests, and Premier Handicaps taking place throughout the three-day event, which is set to take place from 17-19 November.
One of the highlight races of the meeting is the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle on the final day. It’s a Premier Handicap that’s contested over two miles and half a furlong, and Nemean Lion leads the market from Luccia, Anyharminasking in the Cheltenham November Meeting odds at the time of writing.
The Greatwood tends to throw up surprises. That’s proven by the fact not a single favourite has won the Premier Handicap in the last 12 renewals, while just two winners since 2011 have featured in the top three of the market.
That said, let’s assess three horses outside the top three in the betting who might have a good chance of landing the 2023 renewal of the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle.
Blueking D’Oroux – 11/1
Currently fourth in the race odds at the time of writing, Blueking D’Oroux has all the makings of a potential Greatwood winner.
Trainer Paul Nicholls has won this race three times in the past, including twice in the last 12 renewals, and this four-year-old has a great chance of making it four.
10 of the last 12 winners were aged between four and six, while eight of the last 12 had a previous run at Cheltenham. All but one of the last 12 had a previous win over this distance and at least five runs over hurdles.
Eight of the last 12 victors also had at least one run that season, meaning Blueking D’Oroux’s recent win over course and distance at the Showcase Meeting last month leaves him in very good stead.
Under Control – 11/1
From one top yard to another, it might come as something of a surprise that Seven Barrows handler Nicky Henderson has never won the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle.
The aforementioned Luccia is the veteran trainer’s best chance according to the bookies, as she’s the second favourite, but Under Control could have a decent chance in the JP McManus colours.
The four-year-old won on his maiden appearance for this yard over the Greatwood’s distance at Newbury in March and bounced back from a disappointing showing at the Cheltenham Festival to win a Premier Handicap here in April.
He rounded the season off with another win at Sandown, and while he’s yet to appear this season, he goes well fresh and could find himself in the mix.
Lookaway – 12/1
Another recent Showcase Meeting winner, Lookaway made massive strides on his seasonal reappearance when stepping up to Grade 2 company.
The six-year-old won maiden and juvenile hurdles back-to-back in May and returned last month to land the Grade 2 Sky Bet Novices’ Hurdle by almost three lengths from Fergal O’Brien’s Kamsinas.
That gives the Neil King-trained horse course and distance form for the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle, and he looks set to go off at a workable mark.