The Betfair Hurdle signifies one of Newbury’s biggest days of the jumps season and it has a good support card with the Denman Chase and the Game Spirit Chase preceding the feature race.
After dominating last week’s Dublin Racing Festival, Willie Mullins has a trio of interesting runners in the feature including the favourite.
Our expert, Colm Doyle, takes you through his picks for the four ITV races on the card.
1.30 Newbury – On The Blind Side
He’s easy to make a case for on previous form as he was a course and distance winner just 11 months ago and he’s come down to that last winning handicap mark of 137.
The veteran acts really well on testing ground and, now that conditions have come in his favour, he looks worth chancing in an open heat.
2.05 Newbury – Protektorat
It takes a brave person to back Shishkin at odds on given his antics this season, refusing to race at Ascot before unseating Nico de Boinville at Kempton, and Protektorat is more interesting at the prices.
Dan Skelton’s stable star has bounced back to form in recent starts and wasn’t far off his best when chasing home the impressive L’Homme Presse at Lingfield last time.
A flatter, more galloping track will certainly play to his strengths and he’ll act on the ground so he looks like a much more solid proposition than the favourite who has been unpredictable so far this season.
2.40 Newbury – Editeur Du Gite
Edwardstone looks like another vulnerable favourite on the Newbury card, particularly with the shorter trip not certain to suit his style, and it may be worth taking him on with Editeur Du Gite.
He’s another that goes well in the mud and he’s also a course and distance winner. It’s best to ignore his run at Cheltenham last time where he paid the price for an early mistake and he’s a live player on the form of his penultimate outing, a Grade 2 success at Kempton.
3.15 Newbury – Iberico Lord/Knickerbockerglory
The Betfair Hurdle doesn’t look to have the same depth as recent renewals and one that can take advantage of that is Iberico Lord.
This French-bred six-year-old won on very testing ground at Stratford at the end of last season and he bounced back from a lesser effort when taking his form to a new level in the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham’s November meeting.
He probably found the ground too quick and the track too sharp at Ascot subsequently but it’s still very early days for him and there’s a suspicion that he’s still very well handicapped.
It’s a competitive race and those looking for an each-way sort of bet may want to consider Knickerbockerglory. He’s another mud-lover on an upward curve and while he was behind the selection at Cheltenham when last seen, he probably did too much too soon and could be overpriced for the Betfair Hurdle.
*all odds correct at time of writing and subject to change
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