Cadzand wins easily at Kempton
Cadzand wins easily at Kempton

Betfair Hurdle: First look at five likely contenders as weights released for Newbury handicap

Ben Linfoot picks out five contenders for the Betfair Hurdle on the day the weights were released for the Newbury handicap run in February.

Cadzand (Dan Skelton) | Best Odds: 12/1

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If Harry Fry commits Metier to the Betfair Hurdle then that Grade One-winning novice looks a likely favourite, but if he decides to go straight to the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle with him then the market leader mantle looks up for grabs.

Step forward Dan Skelton. He’s responsible for the second and third favourites in the ante-post book and while Champion Bumper fourth Third Time Lucki has plenty going for him, it’s stablemate CADZAND that really catches the eye with the Betfair Hurdle in mind.

The six-year-old qualifies with the lowest amount of hurdle runs possible with just three outings over timber under his belt, his latest win at Kempton on December 27 coming on his handicap debut, the short comments reading; held up in rear, going easily three out, kept on strongly, won going away.

He won as easily as it sounds and he did so in a race that the 2015 Betfair Hurdle winner, Violet Dancer, graduated from. His 9lb rise for such an easy victory at Kempton was by no means too harsh and he looks a classy improver from a top yard. And he has to be shortlist material.

Guard Your Dreams (Nigel Twiston-Davies) | Best Odds: 20/1

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Nigel Twiston-Davies has won the Betfair Hurdle in three of the last seven years and he has three entries this year; the 2017 winner Ballyandy off top weight, Saturday’s Lanzarote Hurdle 11th One True King and GUARD YOUR DREAMS.

I’d say the latter was his number one hope now and he fits the NTD Betfair Hurdle prototype in that he’s a lightly-raced novice and he’s bred to get further.

His latest run came at Sandown, too, a track that was the last port of call for three recent Betfair Hurdle winners in Agrapart, Ballyandy and Kalashnikov. Admittedly they all ran in graded races in Esher, whereas Guard Your Dreams was last seen winning a handicap.

He showed tremendous guts in doing so, though, winning in heavy ground after a good tussle with Friend Or Foe (also in the Betfair Hurdle off 2lb better terms), the pair 19 lengths clear of the third.

Sky Pirate (Jonjo O'Neill) | Best Odds: 20/1

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Now here’s an interesting entry: SKY PIRATE.

A source of frustration for punters and Jonjo O’Neill alike after notching up a winless run of 10 over fences, during which he was runner-up on five occasions, he finally got his head in front when dropped to two miles for the first time at Cheltenham in December – and he hosed up.

The form of that race is working out incredibly well, with the second, Ibleo, going on to win off a 3lb higher mark at Sandown, while the sixth, Capeland, came out and won at Wincanton at the weekend.

Now Jonjo has found the key to him – the two-mile trip – it’s fascinating to see he has a Betfair Hurdle entry back over hurdles, with his mark in this sphere 5lb lower than his new rating of 145 over fences.

He won that Cheltenham race off 134, so you can see the temptation of this race – especially when considering things like protecting his fencing mark ahead of the big two-mile handicap chases in the spring. Like I said, interesting.

Sky Pirate jumps the last alongside Ibleo
Sky Pirate jumps the last alongside Ibleo - form that is working out really well

Solo (Paul Nicholls) | Best Odds: 28/1

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SOLO got a mention in this week’s ‘Weights & Measures’ after dropping 3lb following his Lanzarote Hurdle 12th at the weekend.

The bare result was disappointing, but he moved through the race like a good horse to my eyes and just shaped like he didn’t stay in a contest that didn’t work out ideally. I’m sure there will be other days for him and Harry Cobden looked after him once his chance had gone.

Now 16lb lower than the 157-rating he was awarded after landing the Adonis last year, he’s looking well treated off his new mark and a big-field two-mile handicap hurdle looks the way to go with him – hence the inclusion in this list.

The same connections won this race last year with a similar type in Pic D’Orhy, so they could be aiming to repeat the trick and they may as well go pot hunting with Solo before he embarks on an inevitable chasing career.

Fifty Ball (Gary Moore) | Best Odds 20/1

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Gary Moore is another trainer with an exceptionally good record in the Betfair Hurdle after winning it three times with Heathcote, Wingman and Violet Dancer. His sole entry raises eyebrows.

FIFTY BALL is his only possible runner this year and he’s two from two in novice handicaps after learning his trade in a couple of Fontwell novice hurdles in the early part of the campaign.

He’s learnt to settle better and the form of his Ascot novice win was given an almighty boost when the horse that he beat a head, Straw Fan Jack, came out and won by 30 lengths at Aintree.

That suggested Fifty Ball was still well treated off 120 and he duly bolted up off that mark at Sandown last time out, accounting for Naizagai by 13 lengths when giving him 15lb – a horse who was subsequently a close second in handicap company at Wetherby on Boxing Day.

His form looks good, he’ll be at the foot of the weights and he’s trained by a man who usually targets this race with just this type of horse.

Odds correct 1555 GMT 13/01/2021

ENTRIES & WEIGHTS Newbury, February 13, Betfair Super Saturday

3.35 THE BETFAIR HURDLE RACE (HANDICAP) (CLASS 1) (Grade 3) (GBB RACE) Closed on January 5th 2021 Total Entries 49

Name | Owner |Trainer | Age | st | lb

  • Ballyandy (Options O Syndicate) Nigel Twiston-Davies 10 11 12
  • Buzz (FR) (Thurloe for Royal Marsden Cancer Charity) Nicky Henderson 7 11 7
  • Gumball (FR) (Mr Terry Warner) Philip Hobbs 7 11 5
  • Metier (IRE) (Mr G. C. Stevens) Harry Fry 5 11 4
  • Wild Max (GER) (Owners Group 036) Paul Nicholls 6 11 2
  • Friend Or Foe (FR) (Gordon & Su Hall) Paul Nicholls 6 11 1
  • For Pleasure (IRE) (Premier Plastering (UK) Limited) Alex Hales 6 11 0
  • Third Time Lucki (IRE) (Mike and Eileen Newbould) Dan Skelton 6 10 13
  • Fred (FR) (Mr Simon Munir & Mr Isaac Souede) Nicky Henderson 6 10 13
  • Christopher Wood (IRE) (Ms Sharon Kinsella) Paul Nicholls 6 10 12
  • Miranda (IRE) (OWNERS GROUP 034) Paul Nicholls 6 10 12
  • Edwardstone (Robert Abrey & Ian Thurtle) Alan King 7 10 10
  • Albert’s Back (Golden Ratio & J Blackburn) Michael Easterby 7 10 10
  • Thyme White (FR) (The Stewart Family) Paul Nicholls 5 10 10
  • Marie’s Rock (IRE) (Middleham Park Racing XLII) Nicky Henderson 6 10 10
  • Llandinabo Lad (Celia & Michael Baker) Tom Symonds 6 10 10
  • Solo (FR) (Mrs Johnny de la Hey) Paul Nicholls 5 10 10
  • Highway One O Two (IRE) (Mr Anthony Ward-Thomas) Chris Gordon 6 10 10
  • Milkwood (IRE) (Ms J. Bridel) Neil Mulholland 7 10 10
  • Lightly Squeeze (J Davies and Govier and Brown) Harry Fry 7 10 9
  • Sky Pirate (Mr M. Tedham) Jonjo O’Neill 8 10 9
  • Ciel De Neige (FR) (Mr John P. McManus) W. P. Mullins, Ireland 6 10 9
  • Sea Ducor (C. Jones) A. L. T. Moore, Ireland 5 10 8
  • The Pink’n (Mrs P. de W. Johnson) Seamus Mullins 5 10 7
  • Mister Coffey (FR) (Lady Bamford & Alice Bamford) Nicky Henderson 6 10 7
  • Cadzand (IRE) (CHELSEA THOROUGHBREDS - CADZAND) Dan Skelton 6 10 7
  • Shakem Up’arry (IRE) (Mr Harry Redknapp) Ben Pauling 7 10 5
  • Oakley (IRE) (Tim Syder) Philip Hobbs 8 10 5
  • The Shunter (IRE) (Mr P. Byrne) Emmet Mullins, Ireland 8 10 4
  • Guard Your Dreams (Graham and Alison Jelley) Nigel Twiston-Davies 5 10 4
  • Annual Invictus (IRE) (Mr Thomas Michael Smith) Chris Gordon 6 10 4
  • Galice Macalo (FR) (Culverhill Racing Club II) Mrs Jane Williams 5 10 3
  • Torigni (FR) (Mr Simon Munir & Mr Isaac Souede) Harry Whittington 5 10 2
  • Soaring Glory (IRE) (Mr P. Hickey) Jonjo O’Neill 6 10 2
  • Night Edition (FR) (Mr Stuart & Simon Mercer & John Gent) David Pipe 5 10 2
  • Marlborough Sounds (Vitality CBD Partners & Mr Julian Taylor) Amy Murphy 6 10 1
  • Dans Le Vent (FR) (R J Gambarini Racing) Evan Williams 8 10 1
  • Fifty Ball (FR) (Mr Steven Packham) Gary Moore 6 10 0
  • Faivoir (FR) (Mrs Suzanne Lawrence) Dan Skelton 6 10 0
  • Glory And Fortune (IRE) (Mr J. Hinds) Tom Lacey 6 10 0
  • One True King (IRE) (Teme Valley 2) Nigel Twiston-Davies 6 10 0
  • Blacko (FR) (Apple Tree Stud) Alan King 5 9 13
  • On To Victory (HP Racing On To Victory) Alan King 7 9 12
  • Ballinsker (IRE) (GG Thoroughbreds XII & Partner) Evan Williams 6 9 12
  • Mount Windsor (IRE) (Party People) Chris Gordon 6 9 10
  • Mack The Man (IRE) (Mr & Mrs William Rucker) Evan Williams 7 9 10
  • Crooks Peak (Simon & Lisa Hobson - Crooks Peak) Dan Skelton 8 9 8
  • Song of The Hunter (FR) (Manhole Covers Ltd) Gail Haywood 7 8 13
  • Elysian Flame (Mr J Blackburn & Imperial Racing P’ship) Michael Easterby 5 8 11
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