One of the most competitive handicaps in the National Hunt calendar takes place on Saturday, with Newbury playing host to the Betfair Hurdle.
Returning to the Berkshire venue after last year’s renewal was rescheduled to Ascot after the outbreak of equine influenza – the Betfair Hurdle has a fine recent roll of honour – which includes subsequent Grade 1 winners Zarkandar (2012) and My Tent Or Yours (2013).
Our free runner-by-runner preview for the Betfair Hurdle – along with the remaining action on a bumper weekend of racing – will be available on our free horse racing tips page.
With his Antepost Betfair Hurdle preview currently onsite – which has two selections that have halved in price – Joe Eccles has taken a look at the stats that matter for this weekend’s race, read his views below.
Speed – The last eight winners had achieved a Topspeed figure of 110 or greater.
Proven speed counts for plenty in the Betfair Hurdle, with the last eight winners all having achieved a Topspeed figure of 110 or greater.
Current market leader Mack The Man is a notable runner that falls short – with his peak Topspeed figure currently 103.
Unexposed – Eight of the last ten winners had run a maximum of four times over hurdles.
This usually goes to a less exposed runner, with eight of the last ten winners having run a maximum of four times over hurdles.
The Philip Hobbs-trained Oakley is no bigger than 12/1 for the Betfair Hurdle but having run seven times over timber he looks more exposed than some of his rivals.
Class – The last eight winners had run in Grade 2 company or higher.
Class often comes to the fore in the Betfair Hurdle, with the last eight winners all having previously competed at Grade 2 level or higher.
Not So Sleepy has been a long-term fancy for this since his wide-margin Ascot win, but he is yet to race beyond Grade 3 level.
Ratings – The last nine winners had all recorded an RPR of 134 or higher.
Taking a closer look at RPR’s, the last nine winners of the Betfair Hurdle had all achieved an RPR of 134 or higher prior to their respective wins.
Nigel Twiston-Davies has an excellent recent record in the Betfair Hurdle, but his Sir Valentine is yet to achieve an RPR of 134 or higher.
Form – The last eleven winners had all finished in the first three on their latest start.
It is difficult to win the Betfair Hurdle if arriving into the race out of form, with the last eleven winners all finishing in the first three on their start prior.
Current topweight Gumball falls short on this, having finished sixth in the International Hurdle when last seen in December.
Age – No winner older than six since Geos (2004).
Younger legs are often seen to best effect, with no winner older than six since the nine-year-old Geos won the race back in 2004.
As a seven-year-old, Jamie Snowden’s Thebannerkingrebel is older than a usual winner, he falls into the same age bracket as the Greatwood Hurdle winner Harambe.
Only two horses currently fit all of the criteria – they are the Nicky Henderson-trained Never Adapt, and Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Stolen Silver.