42 stand their ground for Europe’s richest Handicap Hurdle 


Irish raider Filey Bay (3/1) heads the market with the sponsor for the £155,000 Betfair Hurdle at Newbury Racecourse on Saturday, 11 February, following the withdrawal at today’s forfeit stage of one-time favourite Gaelic Warrior.

An impressive scorer at Doncaster at the end of November Filey Bay was quick to follow up that win with another smooth success at Wincanton.

‘The plan is to run him. He had a tough week with two runs in five days, but he looks good at the moment and I’m very happy with him,’ said the seven-year-old gelding’s County Carlow trainer Emmet Mullins.

‘He’s versatile ground wise and I would not be worried about the going,’ added the 32-year-old former jockey, who outside of his epic Grand National win last April with Noble Hero, has enjoyed Graded race success in Britain, France and Ireland.

Gaelic Warrior’s trainer, Willie Mullins, could still be represented by the well-fancied Icare Allen (10-1), third behind Merlin Giant and Pinkerton after being sent off the 7-2 favourite at Fairyhouse last month.

Betfair Ambassador, Paul Nicholls, who will be joining Betfair’s Barry Orr at the Betfair Brunch on Super Saturday, has won the Betfair Hurdle twice with Zarkandar in 2012 and Pic D’Orhy in 2020, and the 16 times champion trainer is planning to have at least two runners in this year’s renewal.

Iceo could run. If the ground is good, I could run Rebaud and Hacker Des Places, who may have a race at the weekend, could also make it to Newbury,’ he said.

Timeforatune is another possibility at this stage. It’s a bit early to say which will run but I will definitely have a couple of runners,’ Nicholls added.

Gin Coco (5/1), who was earmarked for the Betfair Hurdle by trainer Harry Fry following his second to I Like To Move It in the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham in November, is another leading fancy in the sponsor’s betting on the race.

Fry has two other options with Gin Coco’s stablemates Metier (16/1) and Might I (16/1) both standing their ground at this latest forfeit stage.

Lambourn trainer Nicky Henderson, who has won the race a record five times, can choose from three possible runners. including last year’s third place horse First Street (14/1), Impulsive One (33/1) and No Ordinary Joe (7/1), who returned to winning ways at Ascot after a year off the track when taking the two miles handicap hurdle on soft ground last month.

Last year’s winner, the Tom Lacy trained Glory And Fortune, on offer at 20/1, remains a possible runner as does the similarly-priced Soaring Glory, who won the race in 2021, and is one of a trio left in by trainer Jonjo O’Neil, along with Petit Tonnerre and Anyharminasking.    

Betfair spokesman, Barry Orr, commented today: ‘Filey Bay has halved in price since we first went up with the race, and, in the absence of Gaelic Warrior, is clear favourite at 3/1.

‘Another runner attracting some support in recent days is No Ordinary Joe. He is now 7/1 from an opening show of 10/1.’

The Betfair Hurdle – Sponsor Odds: 3/1 Filey Bay, 5/1 Gin Coco, 7/1 No Ordinary Joe, 8/1 Monviel, , 9/1 Icare Allen, 10/1 Pikar, 12/1 Aucunrisque, Colonel Mustard,  Hardy du Seuil, 14/1 First Street, Rubaud, Hacker Des Places, 16/1 Iceo, Might I, Highway One O Two, Marble Sands, Mark Of Gold, Metier, Master Chewy, 20/1 bar

*Each-Way 1-2-3-4-5