2016 Betfair Hurdle – Preview and tips

3:35 NBY CH4 Betfair Hurdle (Handicap) (Grade 3) 2m69y

Past winners
2015 Soft 23 Violet Dancer 20/1 Moore G L 5 10-9 132 Moore Mr J
2014 Heavy 20 Splash of Ginge 33/1 Twiston-Davies N A 6 10-3 134 Hatch R (7)
2013 Soft 21 My Tent Or Yours (IRE) 5/1 Henderson N J 6 11-2 149 McCoy A P
2012 Good To Soft 20 Zarkandar (IRE) 11/4 Nicholls P F 5 11-1 151 Walsh R
2011 Soft 15 Recession Proof (FR) 12/1 Quinn J J 5 10-8 134 Costello D

  • Nine of the last ten winners were aged five or six-years
  • Nine of the last ten winners finished in the first three on their last run last time out
  • Since 2000, no winner has had their prep-race at Ascot or Kempton Park
  • Only one claiming jockey has won in the past decade

Timeform have Blazer 4lb clear of Starchitect who in turn is 2lb clear of Mad Jack Mytton. 1lb further away come Montbazon, Modus and Forest Bihan. FSFs (Form and Speed Figures) have Forest Bihan and Chieftain’s Choice joint top from Baby King and Sternrubin with Zarib just behind.

This looks sure to be run at a decent pace. Blazer bolted up at Leopardstown last week. He tops adjusted RPR’s by 7lb though a poor time figure impacts his FSF (Form and Speed Figure). Blazer travelled well through that race and interestingly, two or three horses moved easily into contention at the final flight before Blazer eased away on the run-in. The race was a lower grade than this event. Despite a 5lb penalty, he is 7lb well-in compared to future races. Blazer has proved solid in the market this week with Mr Geraghty appearing to favour him over Modus. As I write on Saturday morning, he is comfortably holding his place at the head of the market.

War Sound, who features in my NH Guide, has been pleasing his trainer for some weeks. Given the trainer has a guide to the form via Sternrubin and Cheltenian along with ante-post support suggests we can assume he is thought to be on a decent handicap mark. The last horse to win this race on seasonal reappearance was Zarkandar. Comparing their respective FSFs going into the race sees Zarkandar a 5lb better horse. War Sound will run off a 3lb lower handicap mark reducing the difference to 2lb. Ridden to all three wins by young Ciaran Gethings, his 5lb claim makes him a serious player.

Forest Bihan is yet to fulfil the potential his trainer believes he has. However, he ran a blinder in defeat last time out, albeit in a lower grade. Ground and trip will not pose a problem. He jumped well last time out, while it should noted he conceded 11lb to the progressive Aristo Du Plessis when a three-length third last October.

Starchitect’s juvenile form reads well in the context of handicaps. He ran well in decent events at Musselburgh and Cheltenham. He resides in a stable that can get one ready and looks likely to run well.

Fred Winter form suggests the resurgent Dan Skelton has a similar chance with Zarib (First time cheekpieces).

Affaire D’Honneur is with an excellent trainer. Inexperience would be my worry for this well-regarded sort.

Kalkir and Ivan Grozny showed promise their return to action while Modus has long been touted for today. A course winner over hurdles, his Bumper form suggests he should be up to this sort of race over hurdles. His trainer believes he has the ability to run a decent race in the Supreme Hurdle. To my mind, he needs to race with more restraint against these better horses.

As in similar multi-runner handicaps, there have been plenty mentioned positively in dispatches. These include Sternrubin, Mad Jack Mytton (form enhanced by Solstice Star on Trials Day at Cheltenham), Agrapart, Baby Run, and Matorico. On a personal level, the first three mentioned look capable of running decent races. That displays the open nature of the race. I will stay with War Sound and suggest Forest Bihan, Starchitect, and Mad Jack Mytton for each-way consideration. If Blazer suffers no ill effects from his recent win, he will prove hard to keep out of the frame.

Tip: War Sound (Graham Richards)