Betfair Hurdle Day Preview 2020

Altior Runs In The Game Spirit (Photo By JTW Equine Images)

By Samantha

Check out our latest Rein It In Podcast where we talked about the world of bloodstock here >

The Betfair Hurdle is one of the most competitive hurdle races of the year. The two mile contest has been won by Al Dancer, Kalashnikov, Ballyandy and My Tent Or Yours in recent years. This renewal has attracted a maximum field of 24.

Two of the runners ran in this last year. Magic Dancer was only beaten three and three quarters of a length off of a mark of 125. He’s not won since April 2018 and he’s 5lbs higher than last year. Zanza came thirteenth. After that, he won over course and distance. He’s won once since, once again over course and distance, beating Magic Dancer. He was sixth to Harambe, Gumball and Quoi De Neuf on his penultimate outing and, last time out, he fell in behind Not So Sleepy.

Quoi De Neuf (Photos By JTW Equine Images)

Zanza and Quoi De Neuf have some unfinished business. In the Betfair Exchange Trophy, which could be a good form line, Zanza fell at the fourth, bringing down Quoi De Neuf. Quoi De Neuf is quite lightly raced and he ran creditably to be fourth in the Greatwood. He appears to be second choice from the Evan Williams Yard behind Mack The Man. This six year old has won his last two in good style. He won on good to soft at Warwick in November, beating Lightly Squeeze. He was last seen winning a Listed race well in December so will have been kept for this. He’s sneaked in at the bottom of the weights. Lightly Squeeze has won his last three by a combined twenty eight lengths. I doubt he will want the ground too hard but he’s on excellent terms with himself. Officially, he’s rated 7lbs higher than Mack The Man.

The winner of the Betfair Exchange Trophy was Not So Sleepy. This quirky chestnut was a really smart flat horse at three, winning the Dee Stakes. On hurdles debut, he was fourth on hurdles debut, when pulling very hard, but next time he made all to win by twelve lengths. He was fifth in March behind Commanche Red. He ran multiple times on the flat over the summer and returned to hurdles in November when he won, beating Oakley. Once again, he won last time and made all of the running. Johnny Burke said go just before two out and he flew away from his rivals. Because of that demolition job, connections have decided to target him at the Champion Hurdle. He’s very free going and will set a good pace.

Oakley is one of three for Phillip Hobbs. The other two are the aforementioned Zanza and Gumball. Oakley is a really consistent seven year old. He’s ran nine times, winning two and placing on four. This season, he’s been third, second to Not So Sleepy and second to a horse I like a lot called Repetitio. He’s 12lbs higher than last time out. Gumball won a listed handicap hurdle at Ascot in November and then came second to Harambe in the Greatwood at Cheltenham under today’s 3lbs claimer. He’s got top weight. Harambe hasn’t been seen since then. He went up 7lbs for that victory and the yard have been saving him for this. The ground won’t be a problem and he’s a good each way price.

Third in the Trophy was Sir Valentine. This gelding was beaten thirteen and a half lengths and hasn’t been seen since. Before that, he was second to subsequent grade two second Ribble Valley. He’s only ran four times over hurdles and he’s never been out of the top three in all of them. There’s more to come. Stolen Silver is his stablemate and this horse unseated on his first hurdles start. He won easily in November and then came a really good second to the smart Chantry House. Last time, he won a really strange grade two Supreme Trial, beating Thebannerkingrebel. Nigel Twiston-Davies has been pinpointing this race ever since and that’s a really good sign. Thebannerkingrebel fell on seasonal reappearance when holding a narrow lead. Next time, he won a listed race at Haydock by five lengths. He was hampered behind Stolen Silver when evens favourite that day. He’ll love conditions.

In the Exchange Trophy, Whoshotthesheriff came fifth. Before that, he was quite well-fancied in a race at Haydock. The decent ground could aid him and he won his first two starts for Phil Kirby after coming from Gordon Elliot in Ireland. There’s an Irish runner in the race from Willie Mullins. Ciel De Neige made his debut in the Fred Winter and actually ran an excellent race. Next time, he ran on under hands and heels after Barry Geraghty dropped his whip. He ran a really good race and an even better one next time when he only went down a head to a Gigginstown horse. He could be well handicapped.

Interestingly, Ciel De Neige actually has form with Pic D’orhy in France. Paul Nicholls’ five year old won the race which was his second lifetime start and win. Subsequently, he was second in a grade three and a grade one, behind a nice horse called Beaumec De Houelle who I put up as a stallion to watch in our Podcast. This was all before he came tenth first time out for Paul Nicholls in the Triumph. He was unplaced in a French grade one on seasonal debut and ran keenly when held up last time at Ascot. He’s really well regarded and the fast pace will suit.

Paul Nicholls has two other runners, Tamaroc Du Mathan, in the same colours, and Ecco. The former is bottom weight and came tenth in the Betfair Exchange Trophy behind some of the aforementioned horses. Before that, he’d come second to subsequent grade two winner Master Debonair but has a lot to find on last time. Ecco won his first two outings this season, after coming sixth in the Triumph Hurdle. On the last one of those wins, he beat Neff from the Gary Moore yard. After that, he was third in a grade two and second behind subsequent winner Fred. Neff has ran four times, winning on debut and then was second to Ecco. After another second, he hacked up by fifteen lengths last time. He’s still a novice.

Never Adapt (Photo By JTW Equine Images)

Nicky Henderson has two in this – Never Adapt and Mill Green. Never Adapt is the sole filly in the line up and she’s a smart prospect. She won on debut in France on heavy going and, on debut in the UK, was really keen and ended up third in a Triumph Hurdle Trial. On seasonal debut this season, she was keen yet again and hung left when finishing third to Repetitio and Oakley. In early January, she pulled hard but quickened really well and won by three and three quarter lengths. She is definitely the type of horse who will run well in this race. I’m not completely convinced she’ll enjoy the manic big field atmosphere but the rest of team Rein It In, were very keen on her in our Podcast. Mill Green put in a really smart performance to win at Sandown in early January. He’d got good form in the book but he’s off a career high mark of 142. After a 643 day absence, Remiluc got beaten into tenth by Mill Green and previous to that run, he’d been second in the County Hurdle. He looks up against it.

Nelson River is on the other end of the spectrum aged five. He won well on his first two juvenile hurdle outings in late 2018. After that, he showed some very good form when sixth to Fakir D’Oudairies and fourth in the Triumph Hurdle. This season, he has come fifth in a race at Cheltenham and then finished last in the Fighting Fifth. He ran on last time but looks up against it. Flegmatik is also five but he’s only raced five times, once in France. On debut for Dan Skelton, he won by fourteen lengths and then was a good third next time. He’s not been seen since the first of November when coming second and probably needing the run. Last to mention is Emma Lavelle’s seven year old Highly Prized has ran twenty eight times for roughly seven trainers in England and America. For Lavelle, he’s won four out of five and could be a player.

Age is a big trend in this race and it is normally won by a horse aged five or six, relatively early on in their careers. The oldest horse to win this since the turn of the century was Geos aged nine in 2004 for Nicky Henderson.

This stat has been in the back of my mind as I wrote this but it can’t put me off NOT SO SLEEPY. I was astounded by his win last time and its only early days in his career over hurdles. His speed will set a good pace as I think and hope they make the running with him. That will benefit Pic D’orhy. Stolen Silver is eye-catching, having been targeted for this race. Lightly Squeeze has each way claims.


13:50 Newbury- Betfair Bet In-Play Handicap Hurdle

ONE FOR THE TEAM has ran creditable races on all three outings this term, including last time out at Warwick. I rate his jockey highly. Anytime Will Do is a good rival and has been dropped a few ponds lately. Acey Milan has been threatening a win and Anthony Honeyball is in good form.

14:05 Warwick- Kingmaker Novices Chase (Grade 2)

In this race, I slightly favour Dan Skelton’ horse NUBE NEGRA. He’s won his first two chase starts really smartly and wasn’t beaten all that far in a grade one at Sandown last time. One of those victories was in a grade one and he’s won here before. Djingle won a Roscommon grade three in September, for which he’s penalized. Next time, he fell at Carlisle and then was well beaten in a hot grade one over Christmas, beaten by Notebook, Fakir D’oudairies and Royal Rendezvous. Place claims.

Sceau Royal and Simply Ned (Photo By JTW Equine Images)

14:25 Newbury- Game Spirit Chase (Grade 2)

This is a really good contest with ALTIOR back racing. The Queen Mother winner has only ran once this season when beaten by Cyrname and has had a few little niggles since. If he turns up fit, he’ll beat this lot. The interesting one for me is Dynamite Dollars. He’s won his last three, including a grade one, and injury stopped his season before the Arkle, which I’m sure he’d have won. He comes off a 378 day absence and if he places here, he’ll be bang there at the Festival. Bun Doran has claims here. Sceau Royal has ran into Altior a few times and Simply Ned is getting on a bit.

14:40 Warwick- St Mary’s Lands Warwick Mares Hurdle

LEGENDS GOLD is a lovely mare and has won four out of her last five. The blip was at Cheltenham when she probably didn’t like the ground. She’s stepping up in class but deserves to. Copper Gone West was second, beating Indefatigable, in a listed race last time so has a good shot.

15:00 Newbury- Betfair Denman Chase (Grade 2)

NATIVE RIVER looks the obvious winner of this. A Gold Cup winner, he hacked round last time, when Might Bite unseated, and is a big ride for Jonjo O’Neill Jr, who tallied 50 winners on the season aboard Annie Mc on Friday. Its hard to gage how Might Bite will perform as he pulled up over hurdles last time which was disheartening performance. Secret Investor has scope to place.

15:15 Warwick- Warwick Castle Handicap Chase

I’m going to take a chance on Two Taffs in this. He came a good third in a grade two hurdle after a 735 day absence as a prep for the Ladbrokes Trophy. He was going well for a while but tailed off in the end to be sixteenth. This is more his grade.

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