Newbury’s Betfair Hurdle is one of the most competitive betting heats of the National Hunt season. 24 will line up this Saturday, attempting to follow in the footsteps of Zarkandar, My Tent Or Yours and Kalashnikov.
Our man Joe Eccles has had a look at what the stats say. Here’s three big priced outsiders whom I believe could offer some value, with many bookmakers, who can be found on our Free Bets page, offering up to 5,6 or 7 places! Be sure to check out the rest of our tips and analysis over the weekend.
Trained by Nicky Henderson, the son of Black Sam Bellamy won his first two over hurdles in the summer of 2018. He raced just three times the following year, third in two novice events either side of a creditable fourth in a Grade Three over two-miles-four.
Those efforts were all highly respectable, but he took his form to a new level on his recent seasonal bow. Un-fancied in the market on his first start for 262 days and seemingly second choice for his yard, he stayed on strongly from off the pace under Jeremiah McGrath, collaring the progressive Eldorado Allen late on.
He’ll have to step forward from that effort from this six pound higher mark. He looks sure to do that now that he’s race fit though, and the way he picked up from off the blistering pace set by Totterdown there bodes well for today’s assignment. There’s a number of front-runners who could set this up nicely for a closer. Hopefully, Mill Green can be the one to do that under stable first-choice jockey Nico de Boinville.
Sent to a Grade Two at Kempton and the Triumph in his first two for Nicholls last term, he understandably came up short. Those assignments obviously show the regard the yard has for him. He confirmed that promise with two facile wins this autumn, including when six-lengths clear of Neff at Ascot.
Paul Nicholls’ charge was just 6/4 for a Supreme Trial at Cheltenham next time. He disappointed there, finishing a one-paced third. The slowly run race on offer likely proved his downfall there, with a line best put through that run.
He atoned for that at Kempton on Boxing Day, finishing second under a double penalty. Unlucky not to go closer there having made a bad mistake at the last, the winner to whom he was giving eight pounds has franked the form since.
Barring that effort at Cheltenham, he’s progressed steadily this term and could prove better than a mark of 138 in time. For the red-hot Nicholls’ yard, he’s of definite interest.
Five-times a winner over in the United States on the flat, the gelding beat a couple of previous winners on stable debut at Wincanton in April. He failed to give his true running at Kempton the following month, but his trainer identified a breathing problem as the cause.
Things have gone to plan in both runs since, bolting up in August at Newton Abbot before making a winning handicap debut at Huntingdon in November. The next two home have struggled since but the fourteen-length fourth franked the form at Musselburgh last weekend.
There’s no doubt that this is a tougher assignment, particularly from a ten pound higher mark. However the seven-year-old is only going one direction and that’s upwards. Furthermore, Emma Lavelle is no stranger to big race success, with both Paisley Park and De Rasher Counter who won the Ladbrokes Trophy here in November.