Rescheduled for Friday 17th Feb. Formerly known as the Totesport Trophy, the Betfair Hurdle is one of the most competitive handicaps in the calendar and this year looks no exception.
Zarkander: Exceptional 4yr-old. The Triumph Hurdle winner then went on to score at Aintree and has been off the track since. Rated 151 to be a legitimate contender for the Champion Hurdle then he would need to go close in this. Nicholls says: “First and foremost he’s not been trained just for Friday – it’s the Champion Hurdle that I want him at his very best. He could run a blinder but he will improve.” At 9/4 I would want to take him on with something at a juicier price.
Darlan: Something of an unexposed horse (only 4 runs to date) and is targeted for the Supreme Novices at Cheltenham. Fits a very similar profile to Get me out of Here (won this for JP Mcmanus in 2010, then second in the Supreme) has to be respected from a top yard!
Raya Star: The Ladbroke winner, solid credentials on that handicap form. Up 5 pounds to 139 so you would still think has mileage to improve. Doesn’t strike me as ‘thrown in’ though.
Final Approach: From the Willie Mullins powerful team; last year’s County Hurdle winner. A well respected journalist has put this up as a big danger. One of the reasons for this has been that the English challengers would have missed a vital piece of work re the weather (warmer in Ireland as the big freeze has hit England). Personally, I’m not too concerned and his rating of 150 does not give him too much room to manoeuvre. So is there anything else I hear you ask?
Well, my big fancy is…OLOFI. I feel his handicap mark of 136 is very fair. He has run consistently well in big fields; 3rd over C/D back in 2010. He posted a career best in the Greatwood back in November. Running on strong from out the back, he stormed home to finish second to Brampour. However, his last run (cruising when falling at Newbury) was most eye-catching. He was sure to be involved until that mishap and I am very confident he will be running on when plenty have cried enough. Originally 12/1 before Saturday got called off. Make sure you get involved early before you miss the boat!
Article submitted by Rob Holmes.
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