I’m away this weekend in Krakow so have repeated some guest tips for the Betfair Hurdle from Ian at SP2A…
Whilst the anticipated rain at Newbury is far from certain, it can arrive any thine from around 9.00am andseems inevitable to be raining at start time and quite possibly for 3-4 hours before that, so we will stick with these. (Prices in brackets are prices advised yesterday afternoon – prices in blue are prices as at 6.30am)
BLEU ET ROUGE (12/1) – 1 point each way @ 14/1
MISTERTON (18-20/1) – 1 point each way @ 20/1
POPPY KAY (25/1) – 1 point each way @ 28-33/1
WILLIAM H BONEY (25/1) – 1 point each way @ 25-28/1
(SkyBet go odds to 6th + Lads/Coral/B365/PP go odds to 5th – please check this is by no means extensive)
A 24 runner Handicap Hurdle over a trip of just over 2 miles and a race very strong on trends that favour unexposed 5 and 6 year olds. A race in February is rarely going to be run on Good or even genuinely Good to Soft Going; but I anticipate the Going this year to be attritional. The Course has been covered by frost protectors most of the week, these are basically agricultural fleeces, very thin and they can keep frost at bay, up to about 4-5 degrees of frost, crucially though the rain can get through them. This means that the frost creates a crust; the rain gets in to it and you have the going equivalent of “pudding”.
For that reason I am going right against the trends, I am leaving the “speedsters and unexposed horses” and also ignoring the 5 Henderson runners; and many other favoured horses; in favour of 4 horses with experience of the kind of Going we can expect tomorrow, form or evidence that they have proven stamina over a bit further and who also run off handicap marks that give them a sporting chance at good odds. It is a risky strategy, but trends are there to be broken under certain circumstances and I think it could be this year. The “Trainer Comments” about the race are also illuminating, we are in a situation where many are openly saying they don’t want to “bottom out ” horses with Cheltenham just over 4 weeks away, a look at Cheltenham entries and prospects is as important as the form of the race, some are here to win, it is their target race; some see it as a stepping stone to Cheltenham; a few will need a strong run to get in to Cheltenham, but a significant number won’t mind hiding a nice handicap mark. Horses can be entered in Handicap’s later than this but my selections are ones I think running to win.
My selections are as follows-:
3 BLEU ET ROUGE – Mullins does not have a great record in this race but his sole runner looks well equipped; it has won over 2 miles; 2 miles 1 furlong and 2 miles 2 furlongs in heavy Going. Runs off 146 here a mark it has won off; returned to Hurdles, it has no Cheltenham entries at all; so clearly this is a bit of a plan hatched by Mullins.
9 MISTERTON – a bit of a forgotten horse and Harry Fry is very positive about its well being and chances here. It ran very well in The Greatwood off 137, saved from the deep winter mud since, up 5lbs with the underrated Nick Schofield up and despite being 7, is a very lightly raced and potentially still progressive horse. It has proven form on soft and Heavy going and also on stiffer tracks than this and looks cracking each way value. Has no current Cheltenham entries or plans; so another possibly targeted here, break indicates it is.
15 POPPY KAY – as an 8 year old, the trends say it can’t win, yet it did not make a Course appearance until it was 5 and only 3 weeks before its 6th birthday. It has had 9 career starts so can be seen as both unexposed and still potentially scope to progress. It has won in heavy over 2 miles and 2 miles 4 furlongs. A Course and Distancewinner off 129 and 135, the Champion jockey rides off a mark of 137 and although the Yard has been very quiet so far this winter, they are too good to write off and a few recent winners and decent places are signs of coming to form. It is entered in the OLBG Mares Hurdle at Cheltenham; but that race has set weights based on age, not a handicap; so Poppy Kay has not to gain or lose handicap wise in this race and that may be significant and positive!
19 WILLIAM H BONEY – 7 years old, probably the most exposed and disappointing in 3 runs in the Autumn although Alan King admitted two of the runs came too close together. Was fancied above stable-mate Elgin more than once in those races and King, has always believed a horse capable of winning this type of race. The Yard was almost invisible over Christmas and January and has come out of its shell with a series of impressive runners and wins in the past 2 weeks, many running very well after a far longer break than this one, rested after 63 days off. The form with soft ground wins off 132 and 136 indicates a mark of 134 is very generous, and with one of those wins up the hill at Towcester, we know stamina and staying power should not be seen as an excuse. Speculative mmm.; but despite his 3 best RPR’s being at Cheltenham, he has no current Festival entries.
Those are the selections, may be the contrarian way will work, maybe not, I ruled nothing in, nothing out and would have had no qualms picking 4 at the head of the market given the generous odds and enhancements; so I am happy and confident that these will all run well and at least one will do exceptionally well.
Tom George Chasers
4.10 News – Minella Aris
Harry Fry Mares
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