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Soaring Glory faces 13 rivals at Newbury as last year’s Betfair Hurdle winner seeks to make it successive victories in the renewal.
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A classy field – the joint-lowest since 2012 – has also attracted last season’s runner up Fifty Ball and Betfair Exchange Trophy hero Tritonic, although Colin Tizzard’s lightly raced Jpr One could be the main danger after two wins from three starts.
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Betfair Hurdle runners
Trainer: Jonjo O’Neill Jockey: Jonjo O’Neill Jr. Age: 7 Weight: 11st 12lbs
Impressive winner of this last year and took his form up another notch with Ascot listed handicap success on return. Not seen to best effect in small fields since. Respected despite top weight.
Trainer: Alan King Jockey: A. P. Heskin Age: 5 Weight: 11st 11lbs
Seemed well suited by a test of stamina at 2m when landing Betfair Exchange Trophy at Ascot in December. Not seen to best effect in Christmas Hurdle at Kempton since.
Glory And Fortune
Trainer: Tom Lacey Jockey: Stan Sheppard Age: 7 Weight: 11st 8lbs
Improver this term, scoring at Plumpton before taking the Welsh Champion Hurdle at Ffos Las. Had a couple of today’s rivals behind when very good second in Christmas Hurdle at Kempton latest.
Trainer: Nicky Henderson Jockey: James Bowen Age: 5 Weight: 11st 6lbs
Well-regarded 5-y-o who made it 3-4 over hurdles when comfortably disposing of 9 rivals in 2m Kempton handicap last month. Surely has more to offer but de Boinville seemingly prefers Broomfield Burg.
I Like To Move It
Trainer: Nigel Twiston-Davies Jockey: Sam Twiston-Davies Age: 5 Weight: 11st 3lbs
Useful dual bumper winner and similar standard when landing first 3 starts over hurdles. Not seen to best effect in a steadily-run Ascot Grade 2 latest. Yard seeking a fourth win in this since 2014.
Trainer: Paul Nicholls Jockey: Harry Cobden Age: 6 Weight: 11st 0lbs
3-3 in bumpers, including Grade 2, and stretched unbeaten record to 5 with novice hurdle wins in autumn. Met with defeat but actually achieved better form when third in Grade 2 latest. Unexposed.
Trainer: Harry Fry Jockey: Sean Bowen Age: 7 Weight: 11st 0lbs
Won bumper/novice hurdle in 2020 and shaped with plenty of promise when third in 2m Ascot handicap on return. Only fourth in chase since but retains potential back hurdling. Tongue tie added.
Trainer: Nicky Henderson Jockey: Nico de Boinville Age: 6 Weight: 10st 13lbs
Looked a good prospect when winning bumper and progressive over hurdles, strong-travelling second in Cheltenham handicap before gaining a second win in novice company at Kempton on Boxing Day. Player.
Trainer: Ryan Potter Jockey: Lorcan Williams Age: 7 Weight: 10st 12lbs
Placed just once in 4 points but he’s quickly developed into a useful novice hurdler, making all at Chepstow and Leicester (both 2½m) this winter. Second in Grade 1 Tolworth latest. Mark workable.
Trainer: Gary Moore Jockey: Joshua Moore Age: 7 Weight: 10st 10lbs
Most progressive 2m hurdler last season, including chasing home Soaring Glory in this (same mark). Hasn’t gone on since chase debut third but interesting back over timber for his in-form yard.
Trainer: Colin Tizzard Jockey: Brendan Powell Age: 5 Weight: 10st 9lbs
Winner of novice hurdles at Exeter and Taunton this winter and even better form when narrowly denied at Cheltenham in between. Lacks experience for a race like this but there’s likely more to come.
Trainer: Evan Williams Jockey: Adam Wedge Age: 6 Weight: 10st 6lbs
Much improved for this yard, winning 3 times, including 2m Ffos Las handicap (heavy) last month. Found out in Grade 2 company at Warwick since and will need further improvement to overcome his mark.
Trainer: Gary Moore Jockey: Jamie Moore Age: 5 Weight: 10st 2lbs
Ready winner of 2m Plumpton handicap in October and at least matched that form when third of 12 at Cheltenham (17f) in December. No more than a respectable third at Kempton latest, though.
Trainer: Chris Gordon Jockey: Nick Scholfield Age: 7 Weight: 9st 13lbs
Winner of 2 of 4 starts as a novice hurdler last term. Didn’t take to fences first 2 runs this season. Better signs back hurdling when third at Kempton over Christmas but pulled up back there since.
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Betfair Hurdle tips
Matt Chapman: BOOTHILL might be worth a few quid each-way here for Sean Bowen and Harry Fry. The seven-year-old is not a typical improver for this race having been poor over fences last time. But the lightly raced type returned this season with a fine third in a good handicap hurdle at Ascot and goes off the same mark here of 135. He travelled like a machine that day and is better off with winner Soaring Glory.
Mick Fitzgerald: I LIKE TO MOVE IT (e/w) is probably better judged on his win at Cheltenham beating Tritonic than when finishing behind Knappers Hill at Ascot. Nigel Twiston has won this in the past and novices have good records in recent years.
Frank Hickey: FIRST STREET only made his debut in a bumper at Huntingdon last May and was second in two bumpers before winning his first two over hurdles at Bangor and Warwick over 2m3f and 2m5f. He beat The Brimming Water very easily in Warwick and that horse is rated 127. He then disappointed in the Persian War at Chepstow and was given a wind op and retuned last month at Kempton where he bolted up off 132. I was really taken with the manner of the win as it was his first start at 2m over hurdles and he looked really well suited to that trip. He was bred to be a flat horse being by Golden Horn out of Ladies First (Group 3 winner on the flat). His time at Kempton was 4m1.96s which was over 11 seconds faster than the juvenile hurdle carrying 17lbs more.
Timeform: Novices have dominated this lately and that trend can continue courtesy of BROOMFIELD BURG whose experience of a competitive handicap at Cheltenham before Christmas should stand him in good stead. Fifty Ball hasn’t taken to fences but is interesting back hurdling off the same mark as when second to Soaring Eagle in a strong renewal of this last year. Jpr One and Jetoile are also on the shortlist.
Ruby Walsh: I don’t see a huge amount of pace in this race and I’m siding with I LIKE TO MOVE IT. I would love something to go a real gallop to drag I Like To Move It along. He’s crying out for it. Sam Twiston-Davies will definitely be forward and that’s what this race needs. I’d be more enthusiastic if there was pace in this race but I’ll still go with I Like To Move It.
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