The Elite Hurdle is a Grade 2 hurdle run over 1 mile, 7 furlongs and 50 yards at Wincanton in early November. Currently sponsored by Unibet, the race was inaugurated, on the Old Course at Cheltenham, in 1992 and was originally run over a distance of 2 miles and 87 yards. The inaugural running featured just four runners, but the winner, Morley Street, had won the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival the previous year and the second, Granville Again, would do so the following year. No race was staged in 1993, but the Elite Hurdle was resurrected at Wincantion the following year, at which point it was shortened to its current yardage.
Reigning champion trainer Paul Nicholls has saddled eight winners of the Elite Hurdle – namely Azertyuiop (2001), Santenay (2002), Perouse (2004), Celestial Halo (2009 & 2011), Zarkandar (2012), Irving (2015) and Knappers Hill (2022) – and is the leading trainer in the history of the race. However, it is worth noting that all bar one of his winners, Knappers Hill, came during the period, between 1998 and 2017, when the Elite Hurdle was run as a limited handicap, rather than a weight-for-age conditions race. Evergreen 11-year-old Sceau Royal, trained by Alan King, has run in the last six renewals of the Elite Hurdle, winning three times, in 2016, 2020 and 2021, and is the most successful horse in the history of the race.
Other notable winners down the years include Well Chief (2003), who won the Arkle Challenge Trophy at the Cheltenham Festival in 2004 and finished second to Moscow Flyer in the Queen Mother Champion Chase the following season. As far as future winners of the Elite Hurdle are concerned, recent trends suggest that the horses to focus on are those officially rated 146 or higher, who have run at least six times over hurdles, and won at least three times, including at least once at Grade 1, Grade 2 or Grade 3 level.