Ascot Betfair Hurdle Preview – Saturday 16th February
Last updated: February 14, 2019 by Leon Marshal
The Betfair Hurdle, the most valuable race lost during the 6-day hiatus over the equine flu outbreak, has been re-scheduled and will take place at Ascot on Saturday. The value of the race has been cut from £155,000 to £85,000 and all ante-post bets refunded owing to the change of venue from Newbury.
Most of the original entries remain, but there are some notable absentees. Monsieur Lecoq was not among the final declarations and Nicky Henderson’s Countister also misses out. Gordon Elliott’s High Expectations will not be making the trip across the Irish Sea.
Nicholls set to launch three-pronged attack
Paul Nicholls was left frustrated by the abandonment of Newbury last weekend but will have his horses out in force for the resumption of racing. He could saddle three runners here with the well-backed Getaway Trump joined by Mont Des Avaloirs and Grand Sancy.
Punters had latched on to Getaway Trump following his eye-catching run behind Champ in the Grade 1 Challow Hurdle at Newbury. That was over an extended two and a half miles but he was always racing keenly and should not be inconvenienced by the drop back in trip. The best value has gone from his price now and the same applies to stable companion Mont Des Avaloirs.
The latter would have an excellent chance on his run behind Global Citizen at Newbury in early December. However, you need to overlook his rather tame effort here last time when down the field behind Mohaayed. He finished a long way behind Alan King’s Lisp that day where Grand Sancy finished fourth. Lisp has gone up 5lbs for that effort so he is now over a stone higher than when last successful in a handicap.
Geraghty booked for Didtheyleaveuoutto
There has been plenty of support for Nick Gifford’s Didtheyleaveuoutto, a six-year-old son of Presenting. He won by a head over course and distance in November before finishing fifth at Kempton on Boxing Day.
Nigel Twiston-Davies is keen on the chances of Al Dancer who is seeking a four-timer. The grey was a very easy winner at Cheltenham in December and has been aimed at this race ever since. He has gone up 12lbs in the weights and this looks a much stronger race. Stable companion Ballyandy won this race in 2017 when rated 136 and is 10lbs higher this time, including a 4lbs penalty for winning at Uttoxeter. That was over two and a half miles and it may be that he needs a stronger test of stamina nowadays.
Richard Johnson rides Zanza for Philip Hobbs, a game winner at Taunton at the end of the year. He was driven out to beat Birds Of Prey on good to soft ground. He had been eased to a walk on his previous start in heavy ground so connections will be hoping that the ground does not become too testing.
Ar Mest carries a 5lbs penalty for winning at Newbury while William H Bonney is up 4lbs for scoring at Huntingdon. Gary Moore has booked 10lbs claimer Niall Houlihan for Ar Mest, reducing the horse’s weight to 10 stone. Bryony Frost rides Nordic Combined for David Pipe who will wear a visor for the first time. He has come up against some useful novices but has not looked entirely straight-forward.
Getaway Trump @3-1 William Hill
Mont Des Avaloirs @11-1
Ar Mest @20-1
William H Bonney @25-1
Each-way ¼ odds, 1,2,3,4
The Betfair Hurdle is due off at 3.20 at Ascot on Saturday 16th February and will be televised live on ITV4.