The Betfair Hurdle – Race Preview
Saturday sees the annual running of the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury. A class 3 handicap contest, the Betfair Hurdle is run over a distance of two miles with a total of eight hurdles jumped. A precursor to next month’s Cheltenham Festival, two horses have won the Betfair Hurdle en route to success at the Festival – Persian War in 1968 and Make A Stand in 1997. A field of 22 are set to take their chance on Saturday in what looks a competitive renewal.
The Willie Mullins trained Blazer is the current ante-post favourite for the race, having been well backed all week. The announcement on Thursday that Barry Geraghty will take the ride further cemented his position at the head of the market as Mullins looks for his first victory in the race. A comfortable winner over two miles at Leopardstown earlier this month, Blazer gets into Saturday’s race on a feather weight and looks the one that they all have to beat. Mullins will also be represented by Dicosimo, Kalkir, Business Sivola and Ivan Grozny.
Paul Nicholls saddles the current ante-post second favourite Modus, who comes into the race on the back of two victories (including over course and distance) and a third place this season. Open to improvement, Modus should give Blazer most to do but with the Nicholls’ yard failing to fire at the moment, a watching brief is recommended.
Phillip Hobbs has never won the Betfair Hurdle and he will be triple-handed on Saturday with War Sound, Sternrubin and Cheltenian. Off the three, War Sound probably offers the best chance of victory with the seven-year old last seen in May last year when impressively winning the Grade 3 Swinton Hurdle at Haydock. With jockey Ciaran Gethings taking a valuable 5lbs off his back, War Sound should run a big race.
Legendary trainer Martin Pipe won this race twice and his son David Pipe will be represented by Starchitect who will be making his debut for the yard having transferred from the Donald McCain yard. Not seen since falling in a Grade 1 contest at Aintree last April, Starchitect comes into the race on a handy looking mark and if taking to the forecast ground, could well run into a place.
The Nigel Twiston-Davies stable has been in good form in recent weeks and they are set to run Flying Angel. A winning performance on debut at Worcester was followed up with placed efforts at Aintree before placing fifth in a big field handicap at Kempton on Boxing Day. Set to run off bottom weight on Saturday and relatively unexposed, Flying Angel could well belie his current odds.
Blazer is the current 4.5 (7/2) ante-post favourite for Saturday’s race with Modus available at 8 (7/1). War Sound is currently 9 (8/1), with Starchitect 17 (16/1) and Flying Angel 51 (50/1). The horse racing betting tip for Saturday’s Betfair Hurdle is Blazer at 4.5 (7/2).
By: Scot McGlynn