Newbury specialist High Bridge on course for Betfair Hurdle as 59 entries revealed for £155,000 contest

The £155,000 Betfair Hurdle has attracted 59 entries (up from 54 last year) for the 2018 renewal. Run at Newbury Racecourse on Betfair Super Saturday, February 10, the Grade Three contest staged over two miles and 69 yards is the richest handicap hurdle in the British Jump calendar.

Local Lambourn trainer Nicky Henderson boasts a record number of wins in the race with five successes, most recently when saddling My Tent Or Yours to victory in 2013.

There are nine entries from his Seven Barrows yard in 2018, more than any other trainer, including Betfair’s 10/1 joint-favourite Kayf Grace. A G2 bumper winner at Aintree in 2016, the eight-year-old mare won her only start last season but looked as good as ever when scoring at Kempton Park over Christmas.

Henderson’s entries also include recent Sandown scorer Call Me Lord (14/1), last season’s G1 Triumph Hurdle sixth Charli Parcs (16/1) and Verdana Blue (16/1), who was third in a valuable G3 handicap hurdle at Ascot last month. Diese Des Bieffes (12/1) looks a very useful novice, with easy victories at Taunton and Fontwell this season.

Other possible starters for the champion Jump trainer include William Henry (20/1), a talented novice last season, plus Charming Zen (20/1), Lough Derg Spirit (20/1) and Jenkins (33/1).

The other 10/1 joint-favourite with Betfair is Lalor (Richard Woollacott), a G2 bumper winner at Aintree in April who has been placed in some decent novices’ hurdles so far this season.

Somerset-based handler Philip Hobbs has made two entries, headed by last season’s G1 Triumph Hurdle victor Defi Du Seuil (14/1). His other is the mare Poppy Kay (16/1) who landed a Listed contest at Sandown Park on January 6.

A real Newbury specialist is High Bridge (Ben Pauling, 14/1), who has won three times from as many starts at the Berkshire course.

The seven-year-old was last seen out when successful in the Listed Ladbrokes Intermediate Handicap Hurdle over the course and distance on December 2, having won two novices’ hurdles at Newbury last season.

High Bridge races in the colours of Margaret Ferguson, mother of the horse’s former trainer John Ferguson. For all his successes at Newbury, High Bridge has been partnered by John’s son, amateur rider Alex Ferguson.

Ben Pauling revealed: “The Betfair Hurdle is very much the aim for High Bridge.

“He has been very good since his win at Newbury last time out and the Betfair Hurdle has been the target since then. We purposely avoided Ascot (December 23) as we wanted to prepare him for Newbury.

“The horse seems in good order and hopefully will remain that way for the Betfair Hurdle. We will go straight to Newbury.

“He is unbeaten at Newbury and really seems to like it there. It wasn’t our intention to make the running last time and he will be much better with a lead. I’d be confident of him getting that in the Betfair Hurdle.

“He seems to handle most types of ground and we should hopefully get a nice weight.”

The Betfair Hurdle has gone to Ireland on three occasions, mostly recently via the Jessica Harrington-trained Spirit Leader in 2003.

There are 11 Irish-trained contenders this year, with seven entries from Willie Mullins and four from Gordon Elliott. Among the Mullins-trained septet is G1 winner Bleu Et Rouge (14/1)and Lagostovegas (20/1), who was third on the Flat in the Cesarewitch Handicap at Newmarket in the autumn, while Elliott’s quartet includes Duca De Thaix (25/1), a G3 winner at Limerick over Christmas.

Paul Nicholls, who landed the 2012 Betfair Hurdle with Zarkandar, has four entries this year including dual G1 Fighting Fifth Hurdle winner Irving (33/1), recent G1 Tolworth Hurdle third Mont Des Avaloirs (25/1) and Cliffs Of Dover (25/1), who won six of his seven starts last season.

Nigel Twiston-Davies has taken the honours in the Betfair Hurdle twice in the last four years, scoring with Splash Of Ginge (2014) and more recently with Ballyandy (2017). His one entry in 2018 is El Terremoto (50/1), a winner at Stratford in October.

Gary Moore also has a fine Betfair Hurdle record, having enjoyed success with Heatchcote (2007), Wingman (2008) and Violet Dancer (2015). His two possible starters in 2018 are recent Fontwell winner Knocknanuss (25/1) and French import Maquisard (66/1).

Other interesting contenders include Elgin (Alan King, 16/1), successful in valuable handicap hurdles at Ascot and Cheltenham already this season, smart novice Kalashnikov (Amy Murphy, 14/1), recent Ascot runner-up Silver Streak (Evan Williams, 12/1) and Moon Racer (David Pipe, 20/1), who landed the 2015 Champion Bumper but has been lightly-raced since. Lostintranslation(Colin Tizzard, 16/1) was a good winner of a maiden hurdle over the course and distance on December 1 and looks a potentially unexposed contender.

Olly Murphy, who has made a great start to his training career, has an intriguing entry in Wishfull Dreaming (25/1), who has joined the Warwickshire-based handler from Philip Hobbs.

Betfair spokesman, Barry Orr, commented today: “At this early stage, Lalor and Kayf Grace head our market at 10/1 and such is the competitive nature of this race that three-time Grade 1 winner, Defi du Seuil, is a 14/1 shot.

“Nicky Henderson will be bidding for a sixth win in the race and one of his charges, Diese des Bieffes, has been attracting support at 12/1.”

Betfair Hurdle, Betfair odds: 10/1 Lalor, Kayf Grace; 12/1 Diese des Bieffes, Lostintranslation, Silver Streak; 14/1 Defi du Seuil, Call Me Lord, High Bridge, Bleu Et Rouge, Kalashnikov, Lough Derg Spirit; 16/1 Elgin, Pingshou, Charli Parcs, Verdana Blue, Misterton, Poppy Kay; 20/1 Campeador, Lagostovegas, William Henry, Moon Racer, Charming Zen, Irish Roe, William H Bonney, Coeur Blimey; 25/1 Divin Bere, Mont des Avaloirs, Meri Devie, Dame Rose, Knocknanuss, Waterlord, Spiritofthegames, Wishfull Dreaming, Magic Dancer, Ben Dundee, Duca de Thaix, Dolciano Dici, Cliffs of Dover; 33/1 Irving, Mister Miyagi, Voix du Reve, Chti Balko, Project Bluebook, Remiluc, Master of Irony, Jenkins, Nietzsche, Night of Sin, Veinard, Karalee, Sandsend; 40/1 Gwafa, Zalvados, Canyon City; 50/1 El Terremoto, Maquisard; 66/1 Man of Plenty, Bidourey, Birch Hill

Weights for the Betfair Hurdle will be revealed on Wednesday, January 17.

Betfair Super Saturday boasts a tremendous seven-race programme. Aside from the Betfair Hurdle, the day also features the £50,000 G2 Betfair Denman Chase, a leading trial for the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the £50,000 G2 Betfair Exchange Chase over an extended two miles.

The Betfair Hurdle

Grade 3 handicap hurdle, £155,000 Total Prize Fund. 3.35pm, Saturday, February 10, 2018. For four-year-olds and upwards, two miles and half a furlong (2m 69yds). Penalties: after January 14, 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 9, entries revealed January 10 (59 entries), weights revealed January 17. Scratchings deadline January 23, five-day confirmation stage February 5, final declaration stage 10.00am, February 8. Maximum field 24 runners plus 2 reserves.

Horse Age Owner Trainer
BEN DUNDEE (IRE) 6 C Jones Gordon Elliott IRE
BIDOUREY (FR) 7 Brocade Racing David Pipe
BIRCH HILL (IRE) 8 G Thompson Sophie Leech
BLEU ET ROUGE (FR) 7 J P McManus Willie Mullins IRE
CALL ME LORD (FR) 5 Simon Munir & Isaac Souede Nicky Henderson
CAMPEADOR (FR) 6 J P McManus Gordon Elliott IRE
CANYON CITY 5 A Whyte, J Bone, D Nott & B Smith Neil King
CHARLI PARCS (FR) 5 J P McManus Nicky Henderson
CHARMING ZEN (FR) 6 Sullivan Bloodstock Limited Nicky Henderson
CHTI BALKO (FR) 6 D G Carrington Donald McCain
CLIFFS OF DOVER 5 John & Barbara Cotton Paul Nicholls
COEUR BLIMEY (IRE) 7 Keith Harris & Tom Gardner Susan Gardner
DAME ROSE (FR) 5 Carl Hinchy Richard Hobson
DEFI DU SEUIL (FR) 5 J P McManus Philip Hobbs
DIESE DES BIEFFES (FR) 5 Sullivan Bloodstock Limited Nicky Henderson
DIVIN BERE (FR) 5 Chris Giles Paul Nicholls
DOLCIANO DICI (FR) 5 Slaneyville Syndicate Willie Mullins IRE
DUCA DE THAIX (FR) 5 Gigginstown House Stud Gordon Elliott IRE
EL TERREMOTO (FR) 6 Simon Munir & Isaac Souede Nigel Twiston-Davies
ELGIN 6 Elite Racing Club Alan King
GWAFA (IRE) 7 Saleh Al Homaizi & Imad Al Sagar Paul Webber
HIGH BRIDGE 7 Mrs Margaret Ferguson Ben Pauling
IRISH ROE (IRE) 7 Peter Atkinson Peter Atkinson
IRVING 10 Axom XLIX Paul Nicholls
JENKINS (IRE) 6 Pump & Plant Services Ltd Nicky Henderson
KALASHNIKOV (IRE) 5 Paul Murphy Amy Murphy
KARALEE (FR) 7 Susannah Ricci Willie Mullins IRE
KAYF GRACE 8 James and Jean Potter Nicky Henderson
KNOCKNANUSS (IRE) 8 Hail Sargent Evans Gary Moore
LAGOSTOVEGAS (IRE) 6 John Donohue Willie Mullins IRE
LALOR (GER) 6 D G Staddon Richard Woollacott
LOSTINTRANSLATION (IRE) 6 Taylor & O’Dwyer Colin Tizzard
LOUGH DERG SPIRIT (IRE) 6 Grech & Parkin Nicky Henderson
MAGIC DANCER 6 Mark E Smith & The Magic Partnership Kerry Lee
MAN OF PLENTY 9 G Thompson Sophie Leech
MAQUISARD (FR) 6 M K George Gary Moore
MASTER OF IRONY (IRE) 6 Highfield Racing 6 John Quinn
MERI DEVIE (FR) 5 Andrea & Graham Wylie Willie Mullins IRE
MISTER MIYAGI (IRE) 9 Ben Turner & Jay Tabb Dan Skelton
MISTERTON 7 Wilkin, Orr, Boileau & Sim Harry Fry
MONT DES AVALOIRS (FR) 5 Mrs Johnny de la Hey Paul Nicholls
MOON RACER (IRE) 9 Professor Caroline Tisdall & Bryan Drew David Pipe
NIETZSCHE 5 D Gilbert, M Lawrence, A Bruce, G Wills Brian Ellison
NIGHT OF SIN (FR) 5 Simon Brown & Ron Watts Nick Williams
PINGSHOU (IRE) 8 Ann & Alan Potts Limited Colin Tizzard
POPPY KAY 8 Aiden Murphy & Alan Peterson Philip Hobbs
PROJECT BLUEBOOK (FR) 5 J P McManus John Quinn
REMILUC (FR) 9 Gilbert & Gamble Chris Gordon
SANDSEND (FR) 5 Sullivan Bloodstock Limited Willie Mullins IRE
SILVER STREAK (IRE) 5 L Fell Evan Williams
VEINARD (FR) 9 T D Howley Jnr/J N O’Brien Gordon Elliott IRE
VERDANA BLUE (IRE) 6 Crimbourne Stud Nicky Henderson
VOIX DU REVE (FR) 6 Andrea & Graham Wylie Willie Mullins IRE
WATERLORD 7 Matthew Taylor Donald McCain
WILLIAM H BONNEY 7 Mr & Mrs R Scott Alan King
WILLIAM HENRY (IRE) 8 Walters Plant Hire Ltd Nicky Henderson
WISHFULL DREAMING 7 Diana Whateley Olly Murphy
ZALVADOS (FR) 5 D C Mercer Oliver Greenall

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