The Betfair Hurdle, known in many different guises down through the years, is arguably the most competitive race of its type over the two mile trip, run at Newbury. It has traditionally taken place on pretty testing ground and run at an end to end gallop, although that scenario hasn’t really unfolded in the past few years. Paul Jacobs has a look at the entry and pin points his best ante-post bets for this most valuable two mile handicap hurdle of the season.
(advised Jan 20th)
Updated Feb 4th....
Ever since the betting odds were released from the bookmakers for this event Irving has been the order of the day, but sadly having got on at a fair price Paul Nicholls has withdrawn his young starlet with the ground too testing for him.
At betting odds of around 20/1, VENDOR is a more speculative wager, but this is a young horse we have surely yet to see the very best of. Trainer Phillip Hobbs has four other entries in the race and with his yard on fire at the moment any of his chosen runners will be worth the closest inspection.
After a cracking juvenile season, culminating in a running on placed effort in the Fred Winter at the Cheltenham Festival, this six-year-old grey was sent chasing but seemed to hate the job in hand and reportedly was never ‘right’ during that time according to his handler.
A breathing operation has since been carried out and he bounced back to form to win a competitive handicap hurdle over course and distance last time out off a mark of 130, now rated 138. After the race Hobbs said: “After the operation he has been more relaxed and working as well as ever at home.”
It is worth relating that the fourth home that day was Saphir Du Rheu and although he was hardly suited by the way that race was run we all know what the Paul Nicholls’ charge has done since!
Vendor’s stable mate Cheltenian, the enigmatic Deep Trouble and the 2011 winner Recession Proof will all quite rightly have their supporters, but my third and final ante-post selection has to be the David Pipe trained DELL’ ARCA. A game winner of the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham, this French import was raised eight pounds by the assessor and was still travelling well in the aforementioned Ladbroke when badly hampered and unseating Tom Scudamore at the third last.
Set to run from the same mark here, I fancy him to make waves in this race although he may need a bit of luck to actually get a run from his low mark. If he does then betting odds of 14/1 could prove to be very real value. He jumps well, has a high cruising speed and we know he stays strongly and because of that Ascot mishap he will still come into this contest relatively fresh. If you took those initial odds then cash in now as I suspect he will start around 6/1. It’s a free bet in the offing if you get the Math right.
Of course if the West Country raider has a chance then Recession Proof does. I was only alerted to this last week by a good judge who told me to watch The Ladbroke again in which John Quinn’s charge brought down Dell’ Arca but was going equally well at the time. He may well be an eight-year-old, but the Northern raider is three from seven over hurdles and has only raced under rules 28 times. Now a 25/1 shot, this seems to have been the long term aim with him.
With similar form to the Pipe horse in France, Smashing is yet another player in this most competitive of handicap hurdles and his success at Limerick in deep ground was impressive even though there was very little strength in depth in that contest. Hailing from the Willie Mullins' yard is enough to grant him respect even though this will be a different kettle of fish.
BET NOW – IRVING
BET NOW – VENDOR (e/w)
BET NOW – DELL’ ARCA (e/w)