Matt Brocklebank looks ahead to the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury and recommends antepost bets at 14/1 and 20/1, including Jamie Snowden's novice Thebannerkingrebel.
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With a little under three weeks to go and another scratching stage this week, the Betfair Hurdle is starting to really take shape and it looks a good time to strike a bet or two.
There are still a handful near the top of the betting with question marks over their potential participation and if the likes of Janidil, Fusil Raffles and Pentland Hills are now rerouted then the market is going to cut up significantly.
Novices have a cracking recent record in the race – the last non-novice to win was Violet Dancer in 2015 – and last weekend’s Sky Bet Supreme Trial Rossington Main Novices’ Hurdle at Haydock seemed to throw up some valuable clues.
The winner Stolen Silver was cut to a best-priced 12/1 and his chances have to be respected given trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies’ history in the Betfair Hurdle (won three of the last six), but the 5lb penalty he picks up will make it very difficult for him to confirm superiority over Haydock third THEBANNERKINGREBEL.
Jamie Snowden’s hugely promising seven-year-old is being prepared for a crack at the Sky Bet Supreme at Cheltenham but connections will surely be tempted by Newbury en route to the Festival after this effort.
Thebannerkingrebel was only beaten two lengths by Stolen Silver, conceding him 5lb due to winning a Listed race at the same venue on November 23, and he would have gone very close to winning on Saturday had he negotiated the last flight better.
Getting in tight there resulted in him losing momentum and as he tried to recover he got squeezed for room by the eventual runner-up Edwardstone, who looks a really bright prospect himself.
The long run-in at Haydock has seen some odd finishes over the years and this looked another final outcome to treat with some caution as Stolen Silver flew late to come over the top of the pair of them as the post loomed.
Thebannerkingrebel will be 9lb better off with Stolen Silver if they both line up on February 8 and it’s not hard to see him going off as one of the favourites.
Rather than backing anything each-way I’m keen to add another string to the bow and at 20/1 (General) OAKLEY looks over-priced for a Philip Hobbs team that continues to enjoy loads of Saturday success.
Oakley was mugged in the closing stages at Cheltenham’s International meeting in December, when giving the three-year-old winner Repetitio 19lb in weight, and it looked a really creditable effort at the time.
That suspicion has been confirmed by the subsequent success of Cheltenham third Never Adapt, who is no bigger than 10s for Newbury now.
Nicky Henderson's keen-going mare obviously improved a bit when scoring quite impressively at Kempton on January 11 but will need another step up to beat Oakley at the revised weights.
The Hobbs runner will be a full 7lb better off having been edged up 5lb for his neck defeat (Never Adapt up 12lb in total) which makes the current market look a little skewed when it comes to that particular duo.
Oakley has also got a massive swing in the weights with Betfair Hurdle antepost favourite Not So Sleepy, having finished just two and a quarter lengths behind him at Ascot earlier in the season.
Ben Jones was able to claim 5lb on Oakley that day but with Not So Sleepy hit with a 22lb hike for his back-to-back wins, there really shouldn’t be anything between them now as Oakley is still clearly improving at a respectable rate as well.
He is one of three possible runners for Hobbs, along with Gumball and Zanza, but looks by far the most likely to stand his ground at this stage and he's worth getting on side before his price shortens.
Posted at 1515 GMT on 20/01/20
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