Friday, February 07, 2020

Newbury's Betfair Hurdle 2020

On Thursday 7th October 2004 Reg Hollinshead, a trainer renowned for feats on the Flat, sent out filly Norma Hill to win the Ludlow Racing Partnership Juvenile Maiden Hurdle at odds of 25/1. I was at the Shropshire track that bucolic afternoon and clearly remember the filly set off in front; she never saw another runner.

On Wednesday 5th February 2020 Gay Kelleway, another trainer renowned for feats on the Flat, sent Bolt N Brown to Ludlow to make all and win the Two C's Antiques Fillies' Juvenile Hurdle at odds of 25/1 (backed in from 40s); the appropriately named Eddie Edge claimed seven along with his first winner in public.

Insufficiently prescient, I only made the link between the events outlined above at around 7.20pm on Wednesday evening. Gentle sigh. Another 40/1 winner passes me by...

Hughie Morrison, yet another trainer renowned for feats on the Flat, will be hoping Not So Sleepy can make all to win tomorrow's Betfair Hurdle at Newbury and land connections a bit more money than Reg or Gay managed up at Ludlow - and pocket a cool £100,000 bonus in the process.

Just to be clear, the layers won't be offering any fancy 40/1 prices; in addition, I suspect it's something of an understatement to say Not So Sleepy can be a bit of a handful. Jonathan Burke will be doing the steering - and not a lot else other than holding on for dear life - as Sleepy struts his stuff; the last day the pair nearly ended up going through the wing of a hurdle.

Sleepy comes into this following two runaway victories at Ascot. The first time he was afforded a soft lead and the handicapper raised him five to 127. The gelding repeated the trick four weeks later in a race once known as the Ladbroke Hurdle, beating Monsiuer Lecoq (an astonishing) nine lengths.

In the immediate aftermath of that race some commentators were a little sniffy about Sleepy's hurdling but others advised Mr Morrison to give the beast an entry in next months's Champion Hurdle and that's exactly what Mr Morrison did.  At the time of writing Not So Sleepy is a best-priced 25/1 for the feature race on the first day of the 2020 Cheltenham Festival.

Subsequently, the handicapper took a much closer look at the horse's rating after that second Ascot victory and raised him to a mark of 144 - a chunky 17 pound hike; the handler thinks this 'isn't huge'...

The horse I took out of the Ladbroke was Sir Valentine who suffered significant interference on the first bend and as a result quickly lost his position. Racing from the rear, he did well to make up ground from two out to finish a respectable third, beaten some 13 lengths (Whoshotthesheriff fifth, Tamaroc Du Matahan tailed off in tenth with Zanza falling at the fourth and bringing down Quoi De Neuf in the process).

Nigel Twiston-Davies has a decent recent record in this with Splash Of Ginge (2014), Ballyandy (2017) and Al Dancer (last year) all coming home in front but jockey bookings would appear to suggest that Sir Valentine's stablemate in the same ownership - Stolen Silver - is better fancied. He appeared to have a hard enough race on heavy ground in the Rossington Main at Haydock three weeks ago and now faces Thebannerkingrebel, third that day, nine pounds worse off.

It feels like a long time since we've seen genuine good ground and that will definitely suit the Emma Lavelle trained Highly Prized but he has been off the track a while and connections have nominated the Grand National meeting at Aintree in the spring as the ultimate target [Weekender Stable Tour 27.11.19 - 01.12.19].

Greatwood Hurdle form is always worth a second look. Harambe beat Gumball a neck with Quoi De Neuf fourth (beaten under two lengths) and Zanza sixth; Harambe has been raised seven pounds for that run, Quoi De Neuf four.   

Ecco has been on my radar and he has the right profile. The run at Cheltenham in November was a disappointment but he was better the next time behind Fred; his price has drifted steadily through the day. 

This is a fiercely competitive renewal; with 24 going to post, it's possible to make a case for several in the field. No horse older than six has won since Geos in 2004; over the past ten years Violet Dancer (2015) was the lowest rated winner (132) and Zarkander (2012) the highest (151).

Sky Bet, William Hill, Paddy Power and Betfair all offer one fifth the odds six places.

The market indicates Mack The Man is the much better fancied of Evan Williams' two runners but Quoi De Neuf has the right profile and was unlucky to be brought down in the Ladbroke the last day.

With the booking of Brian Hughes catching the eye, Quoi De Neuf is the each-way suggestion, currently 20/1 with Sky Bet.

To finish, I received a mail earlier today from Epsom racecourse asking whether a trip to the Derby was on my bucket list. Give me a break - I haven't decided which Cheltenham preview night I'm going to yet...


Anonymous said...

5 and 6yo’s have dominated this race both in terms of wins and places; 7 of the last 10 renewals have been won by a horse having no more than 4 runs over hurdles and the average is 5 runs.
While trends are not a key part of my selection process looking for a 5 or 6yo that has ran in 5 or less hurdle races reduces the field to the six horses in bold: -

RTG Horse
169 *FLEGMATIK(FR) 33/1
167 ECCO(GB)
166 *NEVER ADAPT(FR) 7/1 [odds too short]
164 *CIEL DE NEIGE(FR) 8/1 [odds to short]
157 *TAMAROC DU MATHAN(FR) 50/1 [system rating too low]
155 *NEFF(GER) 50/1 [system rating to low]

A revised short list of Flegmatik and Stolen River with Flegmatik’s higher system rating and better odds edging it I invested at 33/1 5 places ¼ odds.

Quio De Neuf was brought down too early LTO to know how he might have fared [take that race out of his profile and he’d have made my stats short-list] but looked an improver before that so hopefully will run a big race.

Good luck!


GeeDee said...

Thanks for providing your ratings, TW.

I concentrated on the 5/6-y-o horses too; a key stat from the Weekender analysis:

'the last ten [winners] all achieved a top-three finish the time before...
'This is a cast-iron statistic and confirms that horses heading to Newbury with regressive profiles simply have to be avoided.'

No problem with Flegmatik on that score. I used Monsieur Lecoq (third in the Greatwood ahead of Quoi De Neuf) as a benchmark for the selection (finished second in the Ladbroke). Stretching a point perhaps? ;)

I see there are some noticeable price movements this morning with Irish challenger Ciel De Neige now clear favourite in most lists.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

The system rated QDN’s run in the Greatwood at 131 and thinks he might improve to run to around 133 today.

The system has ML’s running to 149 in the Greatwood and in two subsequent races the system thinks ML ran to around 152 to 153 (3 to 4lb better) so 133 might under rate QDN’s potential for improvement using ML as the sole yardstick.

A young horse, lightly raced in this code and with an improving profile looks to fit the trends. Both of our selections fit the bill, let’s hope at least one of them manages to perform on the day!

QDN has been well supported this morning and your 20/1 ticket looks excellent value now; Flegmatik is out to 40/1 so my 33/1 ticket looks a bit less appealing!

As ever, we will know more at 15:40.


GeeDee said...

Looks quite a volatile market, TW. Tempted to top up? ;)

Anonymous said...

Yes! Though probably not that sound a decision; I've had another 1/2pt EW at 40/1 but this time 6 places 1/5 odds to cover the sod's law scenario.


GeeDee said...

Good luck!

GeeDee said...

A dramatic renewal of the Betfair Hurdle...

Money came for the Willie Mullins trained Ciel De Neige who was sent off 13/2 favourite.

The enforced standing start put paid to Not So Sleepy's (9/1) chance; he took a turn, missed the break and jumped the first in rear. Fancied mare Never Adapt (8/1) was pulled up after the first, found lame on her left hind.

Lightly Squeeze (33/1) took up the running two from home but fell heavily at the last, bringing down Mack The Man (15/2) who looked close enough if good enough and Harambe (25/1).

Pic D'Ohry (33/1) pipped Ciel De Neige in the race to the line with 11 year old Remiluc (66/1) third, Sir Valentine (16/1) fourth, Tamaroc Du Mathan (50/1) fifth and Zanza (25/1) sixth; just two lengths covered the first six home.

Selection Quoi De Neuf (16/1) raced in midfield but was soon outpaced up the home straight; he stayed on to finish tenth, beaten some nine and a half lengths, but never threatened to pick up any place money.

TW's pick Flegmatic (33/1) received a couple of positive comments in running and was making some ground from three out when badly hampered by the incident at the final flight; he eventually came home thirteenth, beaten twelve lengths.

Onwards and upwards as they say...

GeeDee said...

For the record, two typo corrections from the race summary above:

Pic D'Orhy (not Pic D'Ohry)
Flegmatik (not Flegmatic)

Gentle sigh. Another 33/1 winner passes me by...

GeeDee said...

Updates from Evan Williams in Straight from the Stable, Weekender 12-16.02.20:

Quoi De Neuf
"He ran well enough in the Betfair Hurdle...but I think would prefer a stiffer track to Newbury. With that in mind I would like to think he could be a serious candidate for the County Hurdle."

Mack The Man
"Last Saturday he ran in the Betfair Hurdle, where I thought he would go close and he was running a cracking race when he was brought down at the last flight. It was very disappointing but he was grand the next morning, although still a bit stiff and sore. We will monitor how he recovers from those exertions and have to think about the Imperial Cup and the County Hurdle."