Saturday 13th February, 3.35pm, Newbury
The feature race taking place tomorrow is the Betfair Hurdle, which is a Grade 3 handicap coming from Newbury. It is one of the most valuable handicaps of the season with £155,000 up for grabs and as always, there’s a competitive field here with 22 runners set to go to post.
There’s a pretty short priced favourite in the betting right now, as Blazer is a 7/2 shot for Willie Mullins and Barry Geragthy.
This horse was a comfortable winner of a handicap hurdle at Leopardstown just last week and comes here under a five pound penalty, but is due to go up much more than that in the future.
He’s off a low weight and is clearly well in. There’s no doubt the horse is set to improve some more, but the worry might be that this race is coming a little bit too soon.
However, you have to say he does look to have an outstanding chance.
War Sound is next in the betting at 7/1 for Phillip Hobbs and talented five-pound claimer Ciaran Gethings. Having a jockey take weight off can be crucial in these handicaps and this could be a smart move from the training.
The horse hasn’t been seen since winning the Swinton Hurdle at Haydock comfortably back in May, but might have had this race in mind for a while.
Modus is another 7/1 shot, this time for Paul Nicholls and Nick Scholfield.
Soft ground doesn’t look to be ideal for this six-year-old as he struggled on it at Taunton last time out, but he is another improver.
This has been the plan for the Nicholls team to send Modus here as he has had three runs to get himself handicapped. He is interesting off a mark of 139.
The ground would have to be a worry though and he might be better on a sounder surface.
Sternrubin is another for Phillip Hobbs and Richard Johnson will be on board this horse, who is a real improver.
He’s a 9/1 shot and dead heated in the Ladbroke Hurdle at Ascot last time out.
The horse is a course and distance winner and sometimes this race can suit a front-runner. He’s sure to get a top class ride from Johnson.
Affaire D’Honneur is then at 10/1, with Discosimo, Forest Bihan and Starchitect and Zarib all being offered around the 16/1 mark. Its then 20/1 and over bar these.
In a wide open race we’re going to side with two here and think Mullins does have the most likely winner in BLAZER, but we also like an each-way bet on STERNRUBIN.