31 go forward for Britain’s richest handicap hurdle, the Betfair Hurdle, at Newbury on Saturday

Last year’s runner-up Cheltenian (11st 12lb, Philip Hobbs, 20/1 with Betfair) tops the weights for the £155,000 Betfair Hurdle (3.35pm), Britain’s richest handicap hurdle, which takes place over an extended two miles at Newbury on Betfair Super Saturday, February 13.

The 10-year-old is one of three entries going forward for the Somerset handler along with 6/1 chance War Sound (11st 7lb), who has not been seen out since landing the valuable Swinton Handicap Hurdle in May, and Sternrubin (11st 1lb, 12/1, pictured below), successful in an intermediate handicap hurdle at Newbury in November before dead-heating in a Grade Three handicap hurdle at Ascot shortly before Christmas.

The 5/1 favourite with Betfair is the novice Modus (10st 12lb, Paul Nicholls). The six-year-old won over the course and distance on November 26 and was last seen out when third at Taunton on December 30.


Modus is owned by J P McManus, who has five entries remaining including Blazer (10st 4b, Willie Mullins, 6/1), a comfortable winner at Leopardstown on Saturday (February 6), and Waxies Dargle (11st 1lb, Noel Meade, 20/1), who was third in a Grade Three event at Cheltenham in November but has been disappointing twice since. The Jonjo O’Neill-trained duo of Matorico (10st 9lb, 25/1) and Champagne At Tara (10st 2lb, 25/1) complete the McManus-owned quintet.

Brian Ellison sent out Bothy to finish runner-up to Recession Proof in 2011 and is set to rely on Forest Bihan (10st 13lb, 16/1) this year.

An impressive winner on his final start in France, the five-year-old is yet to win in four outings over hurdles in Britain. The best of those efforts came when third to Aristo Du Plessis in a two-mile handicap at Ayr in October and last time out when just touched off under a big weight at Catterick on January 27.

Ellison, who trains in North Yorkshire, said today: “Forest Bihan is fine. He got there a bit too soon at Catterick and was probably a bit unlucky not to win.

“I’m not really concerned about dropping back in trip. Two miles, three furlongs around Catterick is similar to two miles at Newbury on testing ground and you need to stay to win these big handicaps.
“I think he is probably the best horse I have run in the Betfair Hurdle. He is a quality horse and whatever he does now he will be class next year. It has just taken him a while to settle into English racing and he didn’t jump very well when we first got him. He was a bit high, but at Catterick he was brilliant.”

There are nine Irish-trained entries remaining, eight of whom are trained by Willie Mullins. In addition to Blazer, Mullins’ other leading hopes include Dicosimo (11st 9lb, 14/1), a Listed winner at Limerick over Christmas, and Kalkir (11st 6lb, 14/1), who was runner-up in a valuable handicap hurdle at Leopardstown last month.

Other contenders prominent in the market with Betfair include exciting novice Affaire D’Honneur (10st 5lb, Harry Whittington, 10/1) and John Constable (10st 12lb, Evan Williams, 10/1) who finished runner-up to Sternrubin over the course and distance in November.

A maximum of 24 runners can line up in the race over two miles and 69 yards which is due off at 3.35pm on Saturday.

Betfair spokesman Barry Orr commented today: “Modus and War Sound head the market but Saturday’s Leopardstown winner, Blazer, is lurking towards the bottom of the weights and should he get in, which he should do as he is number 26 on this list, I suspect he will go off favourite.

“To reflect the competitiveness of the race, we are paying five places to each way ante-post punters.”

The fabulous seven-race card on Betfair Super Saturday at Newbury runs from 1.20pm through to 4.45pm. Entries for both the £50,000 Grade Two Betfair Denman Chase (2.25pm) and the £50,000 Grade Two Betfair Exchange Chase (3.00pm) have been re-opened until 11.00am tomorrow.

The going at Newbury is currently Heavy, Soft in places.

Betfair Hurdle, Betfair bet: 5/1 Modus; 6/1 Blazer, War Sound; 10/1 Affaire D’Honneur, John Constable; 12/1 Sternrubin; 14/1 Dicosimo, Kalkir; 16/1 Forest Bihan, Mad Jack Mytton, Starchitect; 20/1 Agrapart, Buiseness Sivola, Cheltenian, Petite Parisienne, Waxies Dargle, Whiteout, Winner Massagot, Zarib; 25/1 Champagne At Tara, Flying Angel, Ivan Grozny, Matorico, Noble Inn, Qewy;  33/1 Baby King, Fou Et Sage, Galizzi, Montbazon, Three Kingdoms; 50/1 Chieftains Choice

EW Terms: 1/4 Odds | 5 Places

The Betfair Hurdle

Grade 3, £155,000 Total Prize Fund. 3.35pm, Saturday, February 13, 2016. For four-year-olds and upwards, two miles and half a furlong (2m 69yds). Penalties: after January 17, a winner of a hurdle 5lb, a winner of two hurdles 8lb, no penalty to increase a horse’s weight above 11st 12lb. Entries closed January 12, entries revealed January 13 (75 entries), weights revealed January 20. Scratchings deadline January 26 (51 remained), five-day confirmation stage February 8 (31 confirmations), final declaration stage 10.00am, February 11.


Horse Age Wgt Owner Trainer
CHELTENIAN (FR) 10 11-12 Roger Brookhouse Philip Hobbs
DICOSIMO (FR) 5 11-09 Susannah Ricci Willie Mullins IRE
WAR SOUND 7 11-07 The Englands and Heywoods Philip Hobbs
KALKIR (FR) 5 11-06 Susannah Ricci Willie Mullins IRE
IVAN GROZNY (FR) 6 11-04 Andrea & Graham Wylie Willie Mullins IRE
PETITE PARISIENNE (FR) 5 11-03 Gigginstown House Stud Willie Mullins IRE
QEWY (IRE) 6 11-03 Bloomfields John Ferguson
FOU ET SAGE (FR) 5 11-02 Andrew Brooks Dan Skelton
BUISENESS SIVOLA (FR) 5 11-01 Simon Munir/Isaac Souede Willie Mullins IRE
STERNRUBIN (GER) 5 11-01 Terry Warner Philip Hobbs
WAXIES DARGLE 7 11-01 J P McManus Noel Meade IRE
THREE KINGDOMS (IRE) 7 11-00 Bloomfields John Ferguson
WHITEOUT (GER) 5 11-00 David Lawlor Willie Mullins IRE
MAD JACK MYTTON (IRE) 6 10-13 J C & S R Hitchins Jonjo O’Neill
FOREST BIHAN (FR) 5 10-13 P J Martin Brian Ellison
MONTBAZON (FR) 9 10-13 David Sewell Alan King
JOHN CONSTABLE (IRE) 5 10-12 Walters Plant Hire Ltd Evan Williams
MODUS 6 10-12 J P McManus Paul Nicholls
NOBLE INN (FR) 6 10-11 M J Mulvaney Willie Mullins IRE
AGRAPART (FR) 5 10-10 The Gascoigne Brookes Partnership III Nick Williams
MATORICO (IRE) 5 10-09 John P McManus Jonjo O’Neill
STARCHITECT (IRE) 5 10-08 Paul & Clare Rooney David Pipe
ZARIB (IRE) 5 10-07 Notalotterry Dan Skelton
AFFAIRE D’HONNEUR (FR) 5 10-05 Holt Robinson Kronbauer Macnabb O’Connor Harry Whittington
WINNER MASSAGOT (FR) 5 10-05 Masterson Holdings Limited Alan King
BLAZER (FR) 5 10-04 (5lb ex) John P McManus Willie Mullins IRE
GALIZZI (USA) 5 10-04 Bloomfields John Ferguson
CHIEFTAIN’S CHOICE (IRE) 7 10-02 Carl Hinchy Kevin Frost
CHAMPAGNE AT TARA 7 10-02 John P McManus Jonjo O’Neill
BABY KING (IRE) 7 10-01 About Two Weeks Tom George
FLYING ANGEL (IRE) 5 10-01 R J Rexton Nigel Twiston-Davies


31 five-day confirmations

9 Irish-trained