Pipe pair appeal in Betfair
Simon Holt previews the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury on Saturday and he fancies David Pipe to have a good day.
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Trainer David Pipe is fancied to play a strong hand in Saturday's Betfair Handicap Hurdle at Newbury with the smart French import DELL' ARCA ably supported by last year's third Swing Bowler.
Dell' Arca could not have made a better start to his career in this country when lifting the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham in November, showing solid battling qualities to beat Sametegal with Flaxen Flare (subsequently placed in two more competitive handicaps) six lengths away in fourth.
The French import, a winner on the Flat and over hurdles in his native country, was then unlucky at Ascot next time when apparantly travelling well only to be hampered by the faller Recession Proof at the third last, an incident which gave jockey Tom Scudamore no chance of remaining in the saddle.
Flaxen Flare's third in that race suggests that Dell' Arca, with a clear run, must have been thereabouts at the finish and he would probably have finished in front of Chris Pea Green, Rolling Star, Irish Saint and Alaivan who all reoppose while Totalize was pulled up.
Still unexposed, the fact that the five-year-old stayed at least 2m2f in France and also has form in heavy ground are factors in his favour in what is likely to be a gruelling test.
Lightly raced stable companion Swing Bowler was taking on something special when third behind My Tent Or Yours last year having been unbeaten in three previous starts over hurdles, and in two bumpers.
The daughter of Galileo - beautifully bred out of that smart racemare Lady Cricket (also the dam of leading novice Red Sherlock) - ran below her best behind Quevega at Cheltenham on her only subsequent start but looks sure to be fired up for this second Betfair Hurdle attempt.
Swing Bowler could well reward an each-way interest.
Paul Nicholls is strongly represented by Ascot winner Irish Saint and Far West. Irish Saint looks very well handicapped on his 11 length defeat of Imperial Leader over two and a half miles on the Royal course as he carries just a 5lb penalty here yet has gone up 12lb in the handicapper's ratings.
Well beaten in the Ladbroke over two miles previously, it's just a question of whether this shorter trip will be quite so suitable.
Far West, runner-up in last season's Triumph Hurdle, ran well enough behind the talented Melodic Rendezvous at Wincanton on his reappearance but faces a tough ask here in trying to turn the tables on Rolling Star who beat him nearly 10 lengths into fourth at Haydock subsequently.
That may not have been Far West at his best and, even in winning, Rolling Star put in only a workmanlike performance. There have been rave gallops reviews concerning the latter in recent days but he hardly looks well handicapped off 11st12lb given he has twice been a disappointing favourite in his last four starts.
Although well beaten in the Ladbroke, Alaivan is an interesting runner having since finished second at Wincanton. Trainer Jonjo O'Neill is sweet on his chances and the eight-year-old is lightly weighted on some of his best form a few years ago.
However, one who could be even better treated is the former Cheltenham bumper winner Cheltenian who has been lightly raced since that prestigious success.
Philip Hobbs' gelding was well beaten in the Supreme Novices at the Festival last March but is not badly handicapped on a previous second at Doncaster and hacked up on his reappearance when odds-on at Uttoxeter. A little bit buzzy, he will need to switch off in this taxing contest.
One other worth mentioning is the Irish raider Smashing who boasted some fair form in France and has won both his starts for Willie Mullins this season at Fairyhouse and Limerick, on the latter occasion jumping well and readily accounting for the Aidan O'Brien-handled Carriganog.
This is clearly a decent horse, though this is a very different task compared to those previous races both of which were contested by just six runners.