Calipto remains in Betfair Hurdle as 46 go forward for Britain’s richest handicap hurdle

Ante-post favourite Calipto, a 5/1 chance with Betfair Sportsbook, headlines 46 confirmations, revealed today, for the £155,000 Grade Three Betfair Hurdle over an extended two miles at Newbury on Betfair Super Saturday, February 7.

The Paul Nicholls-trained five-year-old (pictured right in Blue), could emulate the champion trainer’s Zarkandar, who successfully defied an absence when capturing the 2012 Betfair Hurdle. Calipto has not been seen on a racecourse since finishing second to Tiger Roll in an intermediate hurdle at Cheltenham in October.

Activial (Harry Fry) is next best in the betting for Britain’s richest handicap hurdle at 10/1 after an encouraging third on his reappearance in the Ladbroke Hurdle at Ascot in December. He could be joined by stablemate Jolly’s Cracked It (16/1), who was second to L’Ami Serge in the Grade One Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown earlier this month.

Nicky Henderson, going for his sixth Betfair Hurdle, has whittled down his nine initial entries to five, headed by Christmas Hurdle fourth Sign Of A Victory (14/1) and Snake Eyes (12/1), who finished 10th in a valuable handicap hurdle at Leopardstown on Sunday (January 18). The quintet is completed by the Simon Munir and Isaac Souede-owned pair of Dawalan (20/1) and Vasco Du Ronceray (20/1), who both scored last time out, plus Royal Irish Hussar (20/1).

There are four Irish-trained acceptors, including three from the stable of champion trainer Willie Mullins. The Closutton handler has confirmed Wicklow Brave (16/1), who was a classy novice last season, Lucky Bridle (20/1) and Daneking (14/1)
Tony Martin has left in Blair Perrone (16/1)on the back of a fifth to Douvan in the Grade Two Moscow Flyer Novices’ Hurdle at Punchestown on January 10.

The six-year-old previously accounted for last season’s Champion Bumper hero Silver Concorde in a two-mile maiden hurdle at Leopardstown on December 27, scoring decisively by two lengths.

Martin revealed: “The Betfair Hurdle is an option for Blair Perrone. The intention is to run him somewhere at around that time but it’s too early to say whether that will be at Newbury or in a novices’ hurdle at Leopardstown. We will probably know more in a week or so.
“We are happy enough with him at the moment. He has come out of Punchestown well and will have learnt a good bit from that as it was only his fifth run. He has always shown himself to be a fair horse and we were very happy with him at Leopardstown.”

Blair Perrone could bid to continue the good record of novices, who have won four of the last five renewals of the Betfair Hurdle courtesy of Splash Of Ginge (2014), My Tent Or Yours (2013), Recession Proof (2011) and Get Me Out Of Here (25/1) (2010).

Fascino Rustico (12/1) may line up after making an impressive debut for trainer Dan Skelton in a novices’ hurdle at Bangor on January 6, while Warren Greatrex is likely to saddle Seedling (16/1), who is three from three over hurdles this season.

Other notables include potential top-weight Garde La Victoire (Philip Hobbs, 16/1), recent Grade Two scorer Aso (Venetia Williams, 16/1) and the consistent Pine Creek (14/1), who is one of four confirmations for in-form Newmarket handler John Ferguson.

Newbury’s Betfair Super Saturday also features the £50,000 Grade Two Betfair Denman Chase, a leading trial for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, and the £50,000 Grade Two Betfair Price Rush Chase over two miles and a furlong.

Betfair Spokesman Barry Orr commented today: “Having initially been 14/1 when betting opened the Paul Nicholls trained Calipto continues to attract strong support and is now half the price of his nearest pursuer in the betting at 5/1.

“Nicholls has his team in flying form and novices have a great record in the race, the yards 2012 winner Zarkandar, had a similar profile to Calipto, so market confidence is justifiably high and he could go off even shorter on the day.”