What a cracking day at Newbury we have to look forward to! I will be in the Betfair Rewards Zone for anyone that fancies a chat about horses and want’s to win some prizes – including scarfs, tickets, socks and more!
The Betfair Hurdle – the richest National Hunt handicap in Europe – will take centre stage in our race of the day feature as we look for a fifth win on the bounce. Stats, info and angles for every race in our mark your card section and all our experts’ views and columns.
Mark your card
The Betfair Sportsbook is paying extra places today!
Paul Nicholls’ Bravemansgame 1.910/11 is the big draw for race one as he looks to put his Brown Advisory credentials on the line by carrying top weight in this handicap.
Paul Nicholls has form figures of 1,2,4,6 in this contest, but Bravemansgame will be the highest-rated horse he has run in the contest, and his runner has scored twice impressively here over hurdles.
“Yard form” for some is a concern with one winner from his last 37 runners – still, they weren’t Bravemansgame, who has a stiff, but winnable task here.
Grumpy Charlie 5.59/2, an impressive winner here last time out over 2m6f, will appreciate this extra distance and could give the favourite something to think about.
Selection – Bravemansgame
Polish 4.03/1 will bid for back to back wins in this contest off the same handicap mark of 130. He has qualified for the Pertemps Handicap Final but will likely need to go up in the weights to get in, so he must go close.
According to reports, Risk And Roll’s 5.59/2 improved form has come after a visit to a horse osteopath over the summer, and he looks for back to back wins after an excellent win at Huntingdon last time.
Trainer Samuel Drinkwater has the favourite The Brimming Water 4.03/1 but the trainer is just one for 13 here at Newbury over hurdles.
The Big Breakaway 9.08/1 is undoubtedly the best horse in the race and returns to hurdles for the first time since finishing fourth, doing the best of the British in the Ballymore Novice Hurdle at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival.
He sits on a handy mark of 144 for this return to the smaller obstacles, and this is a big drop in grade from his exploits over fences where only his jumping let him down, not his engine.
He has also had a wind operation, and Colin Tizzard runners are profitable to back to the tune of £31 for a £1 stake after such procedures as of 25th Jan.
The Big Breakaway is two from three over hurdles and has never seen defeat over the smaller obstacles from a British runner, and this is easier than at least two of those.
This is one of the day’s best bets.
Selection – The Big Breakaway
2019 winner and 2021 runner-up Clan Des Obeaux 1.84/5 heads the market and faces an easier task than his recent assignment in the King George for which he ran a creditable second (would have finished third). He is a potential market shortener should Bravemansgame win our first race.
Royal Pagaille 3.55/2 looks his main danger after an excellent win in the Peter Marsh Handicap Chase, but this asks more, and the drying ground may not be in his favour.
Eldorado Allen 11.010/1 steps up to 3m for the first time in his career and needs to prove his stamina, while Imperial Aura 5.04/1 needs to bounce back after failing to complete in his last four starts.
Selection – Clan Des Obeaux
Sceau Royal 3.02/1 will bid for back to back wins on this return to chasing but will saddle a penalty for his troubles. He will attempt to give six pounds to Hitman 3.02/1 and Funambule Sivola 3.55/2 and two pounds to Sky Pirate 6.05/1.
Sceau Royal is the only graded chase winner in the field.
Seven of the last nine SP favourites have won this race.
Selection – Sceau Royal
Seven of the last ten winners of this contest ran in Graded company last time out.
Nine of the last ten winners had placed in the first three last time out.
Novices‘ have an excellent record.
There’s only one horse that fits the above stats, Knappers Hill 6.05/1, but is he well-handicapped enough off his current mark of 135 to make an impact?
A case can be made for most in this contest, and all 14 runners hold some claim.
Selection – see race of the day.
Trainer Nicky Henderson has won this race three times in the last ten years, including with Chantry House in 2020. Today he saddles the well-touted King Otttokar 3.02/1, a former flat horse rated 93.
Five of the last ten favourites have won this contest.
Sonigino 5.04/1 is the most experienced horse in the field and every winner of the last ten years had at least one previous completed start over hurdles. Paul Nicholls’ runner drops into calmer waters.
Selection – Sonigino
There is no bumper runner for Nicky Henderson today, but jockey Nico de Boinville takes the ride on Filanderer 2.01/1 for trainer Hughie Morrison, and the pair has a 40% strike rate when teaming up.
Trainer Paul Nicholls saddles Timeforatune 4.57/2 and has a 19% strike rate in Listed Bumpers in the past five years.
This race can set the standard for the following season’s Novice Hurdlers.
Selection – Authorised Speed
Horses for courses
This section highlights horses that have won twice or more at today’s tracks and could be in with a chance today.
13:15 Bravemansgame – Has won here twice (100%)
14:25 De Rasher Counter – Has won here twice (67%)
Other’s with a 100% record
13:50 The Big Breakaway
15:35 Lord Baddesley
16:45 Authorised Speed
This section highlights a trainer, owner or jockey who is in excellent current form and their runners or rides for the day.
Jockey James Bowen has been riding at a 33% strike rate in the last 14 days. Today he heads to Newbury for a strong book of rides, including Sceau Royal in the Game Spirit.
Newbury’s furthest traveller is trainer Rebecca Curtis with her runner Pat’s Fancy 5.04/1 in the 13:15. The trainer has made the 186-mile journey.
Race of the day
This is set up to be a right cracker jacker with any amount of horses having valid claims to the Betfair Hurdle crown at 15:35. Knappers Hill is the horse that hits all the right stats for Paul Nicholls, but there could be better-handicapped horses in the field.
Broomfield Burg has improved with each run over hurdles, and his bumper form doesn’t look too shabby either. He sits on a handicap mark of 134, just four pounds higher than when travelling all over a good field at Cheltenham. He traded very short in running but failed to go past the winner in the closing stages and showed signs of unwelcomed temperament.
That run came in the hood, but connections disregarded that at Kempton next time, where his jumping was fast and fluent, and he quickened away from his average rivals in decisive fashion.
He is surely better than this handicap mark on that evidence and while the question still lingers about his willing attitude in a fight, he could have upwards of ten pounds in hand on the balance of his form.
Jpr One looked similarly impressive at Taunton over 2m3f, and he has some strong Novice Hurdle form to his name, albeit in defeat. He is fast improving and looks like a promising horse for the future, and this handicap mark of 130 will likely underestimate him at some point.
However, it’s tough to suggest he is thrown in on what he has achieved to date, but he has all the signs of a potential improver. This is by far his stiffest task, but it’s challenging to see his improvement coming over 2m when in reality, it probably lies over further.
Howdyalikemenow could go off at any price for this contest. Still, he has valid claims through some loose form lines that tie him in with the top of the market, notably his excellent time figure performance at Stratford back in October.
Connections ran him over a trip too far of 2m5f last time in Graded company, for which he failed to stay, having been held up at the rear of the field (all other runs lead or prominent). Still, previous to that, he bolted up at Ffos Las, and he is highly likely to try and make the running in this race.
He was also a big eye-catcher at Cheltenham back in November for which he failed to handle the downhill section of the course, and a return to a flat track will suit him well.
Big race verdict
There are plenty of others worth mentioning here, Soaring Glory, Fifty Ball, Boothill, but I have sided with both Broomfield Burg and Howdyalikemenow at wild odds. They have outstanding claims, and while the former is a more likely winner, the latter should not be underestimated.
Get all the insight from Paul Nicholls on Betfair Hurdle day
Paul Nicholls isn’t overly concerned about his stable form and is looking forward to Betfair Super Saturday with all his runners looking great and working well at home…
Read Paul’s column here.
Timeform offer up three of their best at Newbury
The Timeform team offer their NAP, NB and each way shout.
Read Timeform tips here.
Blake takes a double pronged attack at Newbury
Kevin Blake recommends his best bets for Betfair Super Saturday at Newbury and backs Soaring Glory to win a second Betfair Hurdle…
Read Kevin’s column here.
An excellent day to look forward to. I am heading off to Newbury now for Betfair in their daily reward zone area to talk all things horse racing, so come along and have a chat.
A reminder that Cheltenham Festival Focus will be out tomorrow, clearing up all the action from the past week.
Whatever you’re doing, have an excellent weekend and until Monday, be lucky.
Follow Daryl Carter on Twitter @DarylCarter7