Burke putting on ‘game face’ as Not So Sleepy tackles £100,000 Betfair bonus challenge 

 Leading fancy heads maximum 24-strong field for £155,000 Betfair Hurdle, feature prize of Betfair Super Saturday at Newbury

The jockey who rides bonus-seeking Not So Sleepy in the £155,000 Betfair Hurdle says they will be going to Newbury “with all guns blazing” as they try to hunt down the big race victory that will also net a £100,000 windfall for connections on Saturday.

Jonny Burke admits Not So Sleepy faces a much stiffer task than when he won the Betfair Exchange Trophy at Ascot in December to become eligible for the Betfair Winter Bonus but believes him capable of defying a 17lb weight rise.

The Hughie Morrison-trained Not So Sleepy is 7-1 joint favourite, with Mack The Man, in the sponsor’s betting for the feature race of Betfair Super Saturday after a maximum field of 24 was declared.

Not So Sleepy, owned by Lady Blyth, will net a total of £187,219 in win prize-money and bonus if he triumphs on Saturday.

Burke has ridden Not So Sleepy to two frontrunning victories over hurdles at Ascot this season, the latest achieved by nine lengths from Monsieur Lecoq.

He said: “The Betfair Hurdle is a much bigger test than what we faced the last day at Ascot. The horse seems very well and he schooled well the other morning.

“What he did at Ascot was a bit breathtaking, so with the 17lb hike he is going to have to go and back it up now. It’s going to be a tough ask but I believe in the horse and we will be going there with all guns blazing.

“He is a funny kind of a horse who has his own way of doing things. When we kicked off the bend at Ascot I couldn’t believe how well he picked up. I’ve never gone to the line in a handicap as easily as that. Whether he still has a bit of leeway on his mark we don’t know. We will find out on Saturday.”

He continued: “The bonus has been more on my mind in the lead up. It’s great to be a part of something like that.

“These bonuses are hard to come by and it would be great to do it but once I’m sat on his back the last thing I will be thinking about it is the bonus. I will have my game face on because he will be fairly revved.

“Fair play to Betfair for putting the bonus up. If we can pull it off it would be great. We will certainly go there trying.”

Not So Sleepy’s betting rival Mack The Man will be seeking to complete for his trainer Evan Williams the double of victory Newbury’s two biggest jumps prizes.

The stable’s victory in the 2006 Hennessy Gold Cup with State Of Play remains Williams biggest training success and Mack The Man will carry the same colours of William and Angela Rucker.

Mack The Man was a maiden at the start of the season but has got into the field near the bottom of the handicap on 10st 3lb after winning both runs this season at Sandown and Huntingdon.

“After Sandown we thought we would take a chance on not running him again and hope he got in the field and it’s worked out, “ said Williams, who also saddles Quoi De Neuf. “Last season he would pull so hard. He was very immature but after a good summer on his back he has come back a much stronger horse. 

“Winning the Hennessy will always be a significant landmark for us, not least because of the stage of my career that we did it. The Betfair Hurdle is always a hot race but from the evidence we’ve seen this far he definitely deserves to take his chance. The form of his two wins has worked out really well.”

With a full field there will be two reserves, Howling Milan and Distingo, who will become eligible to be added to the race in the event of any non-runners being declared before 1pm on the day before the race.

Betfair spokesman Barry Orr said: “A full complement of 24 are going to post and it’s great to see that Not So Sleepy will take aim at the £100k ‘Betfair Winter Bonus’ on offer, although he has been joined at the head of the betting by Mack The Man.

“’We have also seen good support for Thebannerkingrebel and Never Adapt, so it’s as competitive as ever with the sportsbook paying six places to each-way punters.”

Betfair betting: 7-1 Mack The Man & Not So Sleepy, 8 Thebannerkingrebel, 17-2 Never Adapt, 10 Ciel De Neige, 12 Oakley, Stolen Silver, 16 Gumball, Harambe, Lightly Squeeze, Quoi De Neuf, 20 Ecco, Flegmatik, Howling Man, Mill Green, Pic d’Orhy, Sir Valentine, Whoshotthesheriff, 33-1 bar

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