Stellar cast of stars entered for the Betfair Hurdle

A provisional 61 horses have been entered for the Betfair Hurdle, Britain’s richest handicap hurdle race, at Newbury Racecourse on 8 February.

 The Grade 3 feature on Betfair Super Saturday, won in devastating fashion by leading Champion Hurdle contender My Tent Or Yours last year, has attracted a really strong cast of names headed up by Paul Nicholls’ Ptit Zig, who was a brilliant second off top-weight in the Ladbroke Hurdle last month.

Nicholls is also represented by the unbeaten Irving, favourite for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, Triumph Hurdle runner-up Far West, Irish Saint and Sametegal.

His main rival for the champion trainer’s title, Nicky Henderson, has engaged seven, with old-timer Petit Robin second in the weights. The Michael Buckley-owned pair of Rolling Star and River Maigue have also been entered along with stablemates Gibb River, Vasco du Ronceray, Snake Eyes and Stand To Reason as Henderson bids for a seventh win in the 2m 110y contest.

Ireland’s champion trainer Willie Mullins spearheads a strong challenge from across the Irish Sea with seven runners of his own. Upazo, set to run in the rearranged Tolworth Hurdle this weekend, is the highest-rated of his septet.

Tony Martin also looks set to return to these shores with Quick Jack, who lived up to his name by beating a strong field at Cheltenham’s Open meeting in November. The form of which has been franked by the runner-up that day, Deep Trouble, who took a Listed event at Sandown on his next start, and the third, Three Kingdoms, who has been victorious on his next two starts.

One of last year’s leading novices Melodic Rendezvous, victor of the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton on his seasonal reappearance, and record-breaking £230,000 summer purchase Dell’ Arca, successful on his British debut in the Greatwood at Cheltenham before unseating in the Ladbroke, are other high-profile entries.

Julian Thick, Chief Executive of Newbury Racecourse, commented; “The Betfair Hurdle is always one of the most popular races of the National Hunt calendar and we are absolutely thrilled by the quality of this year’s entries.

“As the richest handicap hurdle in Britain it always attracts high-class animals and it will be really exciting to see if we have one in the same league of recent winners Zarkander or My Tent Or Yours lurking in the field.”