Five or six year-olds have won the last eleven renewals of the Betfair Hurdle and there are a host of progressive novice hurdlers in the fifty-nine entries that were made for this valuable and prestigious handicap hurdle due to be run at Newbury on the 10th February.

The eight-year-old mare Kayf Grace (10st 9lbs) is likely to try to give recently married Lambourn handler Nicky Henderson a record sixth win in the race, but an 8lb rise for her fluent win at Kempton over Christmas might just prevent her following up in this better grade.

The mare is four from four on soft ground, however, and she would certainly enter calculations if the ground were deep. She is currently and Henderson has in his care, at the time of writing, four of the first six in the betting for the prize.


Patience the key to Lalor’s success

The maiden Lalor (10st 6lbs) won the Aintree Bumper on decent ground back last spring and I think we will see a different horse on a flat track on good to soft or better ground this spring. Trained by Richard Woollacott the 6-year-old looked like hosing up at Ascot on his penultimate start but for one reason or another he faltered going to the last and finished a disappointing third.

It would not surprise me if Lalor went very close in the Grade 1 2m Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree and at he would have a leading chance on decent ground at Newbury where he is likely to be played late.


Nicky Henderson - Betfair Hurdle


Henderson’s Jenkins’ (10st 12lbs) finally got his act together at Kempton on a red-letter day for the stable but at the time of writing it is unsure how the handicapper will react to that five-length romp in first-time blinkers. The horse got an uncontested lead at Kempton, jumped slightly out to his right and at   he is overlooked.


A return to form for the Colin Tizzard yard at the Betfair Hurdle?

The Colin Tizzard yard have not been exactly firing on all cylinders of late and, at the time of writing, they have not had a runner for just over a week. Lostintranslation (10st 3lbs) will get further than two miles in time but he has improved with all three starts over timber and looked a class act when scoring at Newbury when last seen over two months ago.

At Lostintranslation gets the each way vote although the recommendation for his supporters is to wait until there are clear signs that the Tizzard yard are back to their very best.

At the time of writing, the horse holds an entry in a Supreme Novice Hurdle Trial at Haydock for which he would pick up a 4lbs penalty if successful. Indeed, it is possible that the horse will need to pick up a penalty if he is to get in to the race given a maximum of 24 will go to post next month and the selection is currently 40th in the weights.


Willie Mullins - Betfair Hurdle


Willie, won’t he?

The Willie Mullins-trained Bleu Et Rouge  who is due to carry a minimum of 11st 1lb at Newbury travelled supremely well at Ascot last time, but lacked a change of gear. I wonder if he is ready for a step back up in trip having scored over the best part of two-and-a-half miles in a Leopardstown Grade 1 as a novice two years ago.

I’m looking forward to seeing Sue Gardner’s Coeur Blimey  revert to the minimum trip, having looked a non-stayer in the Lanzarote last time when he looked a threat to all coming to two out. He might not be up to this grade but I am convinced there is a big race in the seven-year-old off this weight (10st 1lb) going forward.


Should you keep your powder dry on Kalashnikov?

I do not think Kalashnikov  was at his best when runner-up in the Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown earlier in the month. Trainer Amy Murphy reported the novice lost a shoe during the race and I am firmly of the opinion that we will see a better horse on better ground during the spring. The handicapper has put him up a couple of pounds for that latest run, however, and he might be just a couple of pounds too high (10st 10lbs) in the weights.

Ballyandy - Betfair Hurdle

Ballyandy who did us a favour in this corresponding race 12 months ago was a maiden after three starts over timber and Lalor has a similar profile. The latter is one of my two against the field, but the narrow vote goes to Lostintranslation  to give the Tizzard yard a welcome big-race winner in a season that could hardly be described as vintage to this point.



1 point each way Lostintranslation 

½ point each way Lalor 

Odds are correct at the time of posting

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