Betfair Hurdle Preview – Saturday 11th February
Last updated: February 9, 2017 by Leon Marshal
The feature race at Newbury in Saturday is the Grade 3 £155,000 Betfair Hurdle over two miles. The race was originally known as the Schweppes and later the Told Gold Trophy and is one of the most prestigious handicap hurdles of the season.
The race has been won by some high class hurdlers over the years including Champion Hurdle winners Persian War (1968) and Make A Stand (1997). Other notable winners were Mysilv (1996), Zarkandar (2012) and My Tent Or Yours (2013).
Nicky Henderson trained the latter, one of five winners in the race for the Lambourn stable. Gary Moore also has a good record in the Betfair Hurdle, winning it three times in the last ten years. Lizzie Kelly rode Agrapart to an impressive victory last season for Nick Williams.
Hargam set to carry top weight at Newbury
Nicky Henderson was forced to withdraw his leading contender Consul De Thaix following a minor setback. He will rely on top weight Hargam who finished third in the Triumph Hurdle in 2015 but has struggled in handicaps since. The grey son of Sinndar has been beaten an aggregate of over one hundred lengths in his last two appearances.
Clyne has worked his way up the handicap for Evan Williams. He won at Warwick off a mark of 119 in February last year and is now rated 143. He was beaten only a length by The New One in the Champion Hurdle Trial at Haydock last time.
Song Light has not raced since finishing third to North Hill Harvey in the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham in November. He looked full of running at the second last but was not able to quicken in the closing stages. This flatter track should suit him and Seamus Mullins will have had this race in mind for him ever since.
Ballyandy well weighted in Betfair Hurdle
Henderson will rely on Top Notch this year after deciding that Buveur D’Air should revert to hurdling and a tilt at the Champion Hurdle.
Irish raider Veinard has been running well in some very competitive races for Gordon Elliott. He was beaten just half a length by That’s A Wrap at Leopardstown in December. He was only seventh last time in the valuable Coral.ie Hurdle but was held up in a large field and beaten less than three lengths at the line. He has gone up 3lbs but sneaks in with a light weight and will enjoy the testing conditions.
Noel Meade’s De Name Escapes Me is the least experienced runner in the field with three wins from five starts. The Vinnie Roe gelding has not been seen since being well beaten at Punchestown in April.
Ballyandy won the Champion Bumper at last year’s Cheltenham Festival. He has not won since but has come up against leading novices Moon Racer and Messire Des Obeaux. He was only three-quarters of a length behind Moon Racer at Perth in September and chased home the same horse at Cheltenham next time. Moon Racer would be a hot favourite here so Ballyandy has to be respected off 10st 10lbs. He was expected to get off the mark over hurdles last time at Sandown but was just run out of it by Messire Des Obeaux.
Nicholls doubly represented in Newbury feature
Paul Nicholls is set to run Zubayr and Movewiththetimes. The former was beaten eleven and a half lengths behind Brain Power last time and may struggle to reverse the form with runner-up Consul De Thaix. Movewiththetimes was behind Moon Racer at Cheltenham before comfortably winning a minor race at Wincanton.
Alan King’s William H Bonney carries a 5lbs penalty after winning at Cheltenham last month. He was ridden out to beat Man Of Plenty by a length. That was a big improvement on his previous run at Kempton in December when only eighth behind Bigmartre. Beltor and Wait For Me finished third and sixth respectively that day and re-oppose on similar terms.
Betfair Hurdle Betting Tips
Song Light @10-1 Bet365
Veinard @25-1 Bet365
Each-way ¼ odds, 1,2,3,4
The Betfair Hurdle is due off at 3.35 at Newbury on Saturday 11th February and will be televised live on ITV4.