Known as the Grade Two National Hunt hurdle race, the Elite Hurdle is a race that is held at the Wincanton Racecourse over a distance of about one mile and seven hundred and twelve furlongs. It is open to horses that are four years of age or older.
Traditionally held as part of the Grand National Festival, the Aintree Hurdle is the Grade One race over two and a half miles. The race has attracted a number of top class two-milers to step up in trip.
This year's Aintree Hurdle takes place on the opening day of the Randox Grand National Festival. The three-day event runs from April 7th-9th. Traditionally, it's held on the final day of the meeting, however, following last year's huge success, the Aintree Hurdle has been moved to the opening day.
There are seven contenders for this year's Aintree Hurdle. The leading contenders are the former Champion hurdler Epatante, Ruby Walsh's Kauto Star, Paul Nicholls' Clan Des Obeaux, and three horses that have won or placed at the Cheltenham Festival in recent years.
Several of the contenders have a great deal of question marks. For instance, Clan Des Obeaux is a multiple Grade One winner, but is unlikely to be at his best in a trip that is short by any means. Meanwhile, Kauto Star is a former Gold Cup winner but hasn't run for a while, and it's thought that he might have left that race behind during the four-week period between the Gold Cup and the Festival.
Known as 'the home of racing', Newmarket has a long and rich history. Not only is it the birthplace of the Derby, but it is also the home of the famous Punchestown Festival. It has been a popular destination for owners and breeders, who are able to take advantage of the track's excellent facilities and the many training yards in the vicinity.
Newmarket is also known for the Elite Hurdle, which is run over one mile and seven furlongs. This is the longest Grade Two hurdle race in the UK, and it's open to both male and female runners. It is run in the summer, covering the months of June and August.
There have been several notable winners of the Elite Hurdle over the years. The most notable was the aforementioned Purple Bay. The horse had been in training for over six months before winning the big one. The horse was purchased by Sir James Miller for 4,100 guineas in 2012.
The Elite Hurdle is also the site of the biggest flop, as well as the biggest winner, but the horse that won it is undoubtedly Rogue Millennium. He was a one-time Classic hope, and had a break after winning the Nassau Stakes at Goodwood.
Having coached hurdles for over 15 years, Ernie Clark knows a thing or two about training hurdles. He has earned a few of the aforementioned accolades for his efforts, and is currently in his fourth season as an associate head coach at Ashland University in Ohio. He has also lent his expertise to the track and field community in the past, including coaching six Olympic Trials qualifiers at Ashland.
He also knows a thing or two about sprints, having coached various levels of competition in the state of Indiana for the better part of 15 years. He has also coached a handful of hurdling marvels, including two NCAA Division II national champions, one of whom holds the Division II 60m hurdles record. One of his best-of-the-best achievements is a men's 4x400 relay team that won the NCAA Division II outdoor team championship.
It's no surprise that Clark's sprints and hurdles program was responsible for the Eagle's first two national titles as a team in the past two seasons. Using a multi-faceted program of sprints, hurdles and relays, Clark's charges claimed five national championships in the past five years, including three indoors and two outdoors. He's also coached a number of other notables.
During the course of a 110 m hurdles race, there are several kinematic hurdle phases and variables that may be observed. These phases and variables include the take-off, touchdown, and re-acceleration phases. The take-off phase is determined by the position of the whole body centre of mass (CoM) at the start of the race, and the distance between the take-off foot and the hurdle. The touchdown phase is influenced by the dynamics of the take-off and the landing. The re-acceleration phase is influenced by the position of the lead leg thigh and lead leg hip. The re-acceleration phase may be negatively affected by hitting the hurdle.
The kinematic hurdle phases and variables were calculated using film records. Kinematic data included the height and height distribution of the CM at the start of the race, the CM apex position during the take-off and the horizontal displacement of the CM apex in comparison to the hurdle clearance position. Kinematic data was obtained from sequential photography with two electrically synchronized high-speed cameras.
The 'hit' trial had the largest horizontal displacement of markers on the hurdle. The 'non-hit' trial had the fastest hurdle clearance time. The 'non-hit' and 'hit' trials were also comparable in several other kinematic hurdle phases and variables.
Several parameters were measured during the hurdle clearance process. This study was a multi-dimensional analysis of two video recordings of eight elite high hurdlers taken during 2000 United States Olympic Team Track and Field Trials. The primary measure was the trajectory of the whole body centre of mass (CM) and the second was the apex of the flight trajectory.
The apex of the flight trajectory occurred 3.2 cm before the hurdle, while the CM rose 14.7 cm. These results demonstrate that the take-off distance, angle and CM height are important for the efficient clearance of the first hurdle.
The second measure was the height of the CM above the hurdle. Athletes who increased the horizontal velocity of their CM during the take-off phase also increased the horizontal velocity of the CM at the landing phase.
The three-step pattern between hurdles was found to be the most effective technique for negotiating inter-hurdle distance. This pattern allows for a positive acceleration in the first phase and negative acceleration in the final phase. The three-step pattern allows the hurdler to stay in horizontal motion in the middle phase, while the final step length is short enough to allow negative acceleration during the final phase.
During the 110m hurdles race, the hurdlers must clear the hurdles with as little time as possible. This requires a very quick and explosive sprint, two very nimble hip joints, and good technical knowledge. A rule of thumb is that after two years of hurdle training, a 50 sec 400m open sprinter should be able to run 55 seconds 400mH.
To determine the best approach to hurdle clearing, researchers studied the technique used by two different groups of athletes. These groups had different step strategies, which affected the kinematics of their first hurdle steps.
A kinematic program was developed for this research by Ariel Dynamics Inc., and the video files were continually digitized. High-speed video footage of hurdle clearance was collected with a single camera at the first hurdle. A second high-speed camera was positioned midway between the start line and the first hurdle. Then, kinematic parameters were calculated using film records.
Two groups of athletes, one high-level and one elite-level, were studied. The high-level athletes increased their running velocity by 1% during take-off and landing. They also increased their CM height by a half-span during clearance. The high hurdlers reached the highest CM height of 14.7 cm above their take-off position.
Developing world-class hurdlers requires a training system that emphasizes specific aspects of the sport. Whether you are training an elite hurdler or a high school athlete, there are a number of important concepts to consider.
The first step in a successful training program is to develop the right technique. The takeoff leg is the driving force behind hurdling. The athlete should be upright and push hard with his takeoff leg.
After the takeoff leg has risen, the trail leg should begin to rotate forward. The knee should be straight and the foot should be parallel to the ground. The trail leg should be positioned to "race" the lead leg down.
There are a variety of drills for hurdles. Using specific drills will help your athletes develop the right technique and feel for the event.
Coach Anderson emphasizes the importance of proper trail leg mechanics and a focus on the take-off leg. He provides images and video of these components. His coaching system promotes success for all hurdlers, whether they are in high school or at the Olympic level.
Coach Anderson also emphasizes developing the athlete's ability to move from one hurdle to the next in a steady rhythm. This rhythm is key to the speed and power of a hurdler.