Kilbricken Storm heads six chasing G1 glory in Betfred Challow Novices’ Hurdle

Newbury stages Grade One action tomorrow with a field of six declared for the £40,000 Betfred Challow Novices’ Hurdle (3.00pm) on Betfred Challow Hurdle Day, Saturday, December 30.

Run over an extended two and a half miles, the Betfred Challow Novices’ Hurdle is the first G1 prize of the season for novice hurdlers in Britain. Notable names on the roll of honour include Bindaree, winner of the Grand National in 2002, and 2008 Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Denman.

Kilbricken Storm (Colin Tizzard/Harry Cobden, 9/4 Fav with Betfred) and Poetic Rhythm (Fergal O’Brien/Paddy Brennan, 3/1) set the standard with both contenders having an official BHA rating of 147.

Kilbricken Storm relished the step up to three miles on his latest start when wearing down Count Meribel in a G2 contest at Cheltenham on December 16, while second season novice Poetic Rhythm started the campaign with a gutsy victory in the G2 Persian War Novices’ Hurdle at Chepstow in October.

Dame Rose (Richard Hobson/Harry Skelton, 5/2), the only filly in the line-up, steps up in trip following her nine-length victory over Cap Soleil in the Listed Ladbrokes Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle over an extended two miles during Newbury’s Ladbrokes Winter Carnival earlier this month.

Dans Le Vent (Jamie Snowden/Gavin Sheehan, 20/1) made the frame on his first two starts over hurdles, including when runner-up to subsequent G2 victor Slate House in a maiden hurdle at Cheltenham in October, before posting a decisive six-length victory in an extended two and a quarter mile novices’ hurdle at Market Rasen on November 23.

The four-year-old was a high-class bumper performer last season, finishing third in the Listed Betfair Bumper at Newbury in February and sixth behind Fayonagh in the G1 Weatherbys Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival.

Trainer Jamie Snowden said today: “Dans Le Vent is in great form.

“He won his novices’ hurdle nicely at Market Rasen and ran well behind Slate House at Cheltenham the time before that.

“His bumper form looks pretty strong, and the step up to two and a half miles should really suit him.

“I think he is a nice horse and perhaps slightly under the radar. He only ever does enough and always seems to have a bit up his sleeve. I think he is going to be a better horse in a better race as well.”

Way Back Then (Nico de Boinville, 9/2), successful on his hurdling debut at Kempton Park last month, is bidding to give trainer Ben Pauling a second victory in the race following the success of Barters Hill two years ago.

The line-up is completed by Mulcahys Hill (Warren Greatrex/Adrian Heskin, 20/1), a winner last time out at Ffos Las.

Betfred Challow Hurdle, Betfred bet: 9/4 Kilbricken Storm; 5/2 Dame Rose; 3/1 Poetic Rhythm; 9/2 Way Back Then; 20/1 Dans Le Vent, Mulcahys Hill

Each-Way 1/4 odds a place 1-2

Newbury’s seven-race programme tomorrow starts at 12.05pm and ends at 3.35pm. The main supporting action is provided by the £18,000 Betfred Wishing You A Very Happy New Year Handicap Hurdle (1.50pm, eight runners) over an extended two and a half miles and the £18,000 Betfred Mandarin Handicap Chase (2.25pm, 11 runners), run over three and a quarter miles.

The going at Newbury is Heavy. This afternoon is forecast to be bright and dry, with rain possible during the early hours of Saturday. A bright start is expected on Saturday, followed by overcast conditions with some rain and a maximum temperature of 12 degrees Celsius.

Gates open at 10am at first race is at 12.05pm.

Accompanied children aged under 18 are admitted free of charge.

Saturday will also mark the Annual Draw for those stable staff who have won a Best Turned Out prize in a Betfred Group-sponsored race over the course of the year. The Betfred Group has given over £60,000 in Best Turned Out prizemoney this year alone with 228 races sponsored and each with a minimum of £100 for the Best Turned Out prize. There are 160 entries and the draw will take place during the afternoon’s racing.

The first action of 2018 at Newbury takes place on Wednesday, January 17 with Betfair Super Saturday following on Saturday, February 10.