Whittington targeting “exciting” Affaire D’Honneur at Newbury’s Betfair Hurdle

Weights are unveiled today for the £155,000 Betfair Hurdle, Britain’s richest handicap hurdle, which takes place at Newbury on Betfair Super Saturday, February 13.

Last year’s Grade One Triumph Hurdle hero Peace And Co (Nicky Henderson, 16/1 with Betfair) heads the weights on 11st 12lb, followed on 11st 10lb by Sempre Medici (Willie Mullins IRE, 16/1), who was last seen out when landing a Grade Three hurdle at Naas on January 16, and Sign Of A Victory (11st 6lb, Nicky Henderson, 20/1), a Listed winner at Ascot last season.

Betfair’s 7/1 market leader is Modus (Paul Nicholls), who has been allotted 10st 6lb. The six-year-old was a high-class performer in bumpers last season but has yet to run in a handicap after three starts over hurdles which have yielded two wins and a third.

Others prominent in the ante-post market with Betfair are Desoto County (10st 4lb, Gordon Elliott IRE, 12/1), who finished third in a valuable handicap hurdle at Leopardstown on January 17, a race in which Kalkir (11st, Willie Mullins IRE, 14/1) took the runner-up spot. Also on the 16/1 mark is War Sound (11st 1lb, Philip Hobbs), who was last seen when winning the valuable Swinton Handicap Hurdle at Haydock Park in May, 2015.

Affaire D’Honneur (9st 13lb, Harry Whittington, 16/1) made his British debut at Kempton Park on December 27, running a cracking race to go down by a length to Zulu Oscar in a two-mile handicap hurdle. He was previously based in France, where he was placed on both starts over hurdles.

Trainer Harry Whittington, who is based not far from Newbury at Sparsholt and has an enviable strike-rate of over 30 per cent this season, commented: “The plan is for Affair D’Honneur to go for the Betfair Hurdle.

“I was very pleased with his performance at Kempton over Christmas. We thought he would run very well as he had been showing us the right signs at home and felt he was well-handicapped.

“Obviously, the Betfair Hurdle will be a bigger test for him but he seems to be improving. The plan will be to go straight to Newbury and keep him fresh.

Whittington - Weights Release

“I think he would go on any ground. We thought at first he was probably a good ground horse and maybe that would be against him at Kempton but Gavin (Sheehan, jockey) said after that race that he would probably go on softer ground. He seems to have that bit of class.

“We ran Arzal in the Betfair Hurdle last year. He got badly hampered early on and I thought he was going to be pulled up but he picked up well and finished strongly to finish sixth.

“Affaire D’Honneur has speed and class so we will give it a go and see what happens.”

The maximum field allowed to line up for the Betfair Hurdle is 24.

The Betfair Hurdle is the highlight of a fabulous seven-race programme at Newbury on Betfair Super Saturday, February 13, which also features the £50,000 Grade Two Betfair Denman Chase, won by subsequent Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Coneygree in 2015, and the £50,000 Grade Two Betfair Exchange Chase.

Betfair media spokesman Barry Orr said: “Modus has been really well backed since we first offered this race and is now 7/1 from an initial 12/1 to give Paul Nicholls another victory in the UK’s richest handicap hurdle.

“It looks like there will be a strong Irish contingent this year with Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott leading the charge.

Betfair Hurdle – Betfair prices:

7/1 Modus, 12/1 Desoto County, 14/1 Kalkir, 16/1 Affaire D’Honneur, All Yours, Charmix, Emerging Talent, John Constable, Le Prezien, Peace And Co, Renneti, Sempre Medici, Starchitect, Sternrubin, War Sound, 20/1 Agrapart, Aristo du Plessis, Buiseness Sivola, Cardinal Walter, Childrens List, Days of Heaven, De Name Escapes Me, Dicosimo, Herminator, Mick Jazz, Petite Parisienne, Sceau Royal, Sign of A Victory, Some Plan, Ubak, Waxies Dargle, Whatsforuwontgobyu, Zarib, 25/1 Aminabad, Champagne At Tara, Cheltenian, Flute Bowl, Francis of Assisi, Ice Cold Soul, Ivan Grozny, Mad Jack Mytton, Matorico, Melodic Rendezvous, Nabucco, Noble Inn, Pearl Castle, Qewy, Theos Charm, Unanimite, Winner Massagot, 33/1 Baby King, Blazer, Devilment, Ebony Express, Flying Angel, Forest Bihan, Fou Et Sage, Galizzi, Hawk High, Holly Bush Henry, Kayf Blanco, Monsieur Gibraltar, Montbazon, Princely Conn, Rayvin Black, Royal Guardsman, Sir Scorpion, Three Kingdoms, Vercingetorix, Whiteout, Zaidiyn, 50/1 Chieftains Choice, 66/1 Clayton

Each way 1/4 odds 1-2-3-4

The Betfair Hurdle

Grade 3, £155,000 Total Prize Fund. 3.45pm, Saturday, February 13, 2016. For four-year-olds and upwards, two miles and half a furlong (2m 69yds). Penalties: after January 17, 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 12, entries revealed January 13 (75 entries), weights revealed January 20 (73 entries remain). Scratchings deadline January 26, five-day confirmation stage February 8, final declaration stage 10.00am, February 11.

Horse Age Wgt Owner Trainer
PEACE AND CO (FR) 5 11-12 Simon Munir & Isaac Souede Nicky Henderson
SEMPRE MEDICI (FR) 6 11-10 Susannah Ricci Willie Mullins IRE
SIGN OF A VICTORY (IRE) 7 11-06 Matt & Lauren Morgan Nicky Henderson
RENNETI (FR) 7 11-06 Susannah Ricci Willie Mullins IRE
CHELTENIAN (FR) 10 11-06 Roger Brookhouse Philip Hobbs
MELODIC RENDEZVOUS 10 11-03 Cash For Honours Jeremy Scott
ARISTO DU PLESSIS (FR) 6 11-03 Mrs J M Dodd James Ewart
DICOSIMO (FR) 5 11-03 Susannah Ricci Willie Mullins IRE
DEVILMENT 5 11-02 Bloomfields John Ferguson
WAR SOUND 7 11-01 The Englands and Heywoods Philip Hobbs
KALKIR (FR) 5 11-00 Susannah Ricci Willie Mullins IRE
ALL YOURS (FR) 5 11-00 Mr & Mrs P Barber & Potensis Bloodstock Ltd Paul Nicholls
RAYVIN BLACK 7 10-13 R White & V J Walsh Oliver Sherwood
HAWK HIGH (IRE) 6 10-12 Trevor Hemmings Tim Easterby
IVAN GROZNY (FR) 6 10-12 Andrea & Graham Wylie Willie Mullins IRE
CHARMIX (FR) 6 10-12 Nicholas Cooper Harry Fry
SOME PLAN (IRE) 8 10-12 Roger Brookhouse Paul Nicholls
PETITE PARISIENNE (FR) 5 10-11 Gigginstown House Stud Willie Mullins IRE
QEWY (IRE) 6 10-11 Bloomfields John Ferguson
UBAK (FR) 8 10-11 Nick Peacock Gary Moore
DE NAME ESCAPES ME (IRE) 6 10-10 J P McManus Noel Meade IRE
DAYS OF HEAVEN (FR) 6 10-10 Michael Buckley Nicky Henderson
FOU ET SAGE (FR) 5 10-10 A Brooks Dan Skelton
BUISENESS SIVOLA (FR) 5 10-09 Simon Munir/Isaac Souede Willie Mullins IRE
STERNRUBIN (GER) 5 10-09 Terry Warner Philip Hobbs
WAXIES DARGLE 7 10-09 J P McManus Noel Meade IRE
FRANCIS OF ASSISI (IRE) 6 10-08 Bloomfields John Ferguson
THREE KINGDOMS (IRE) 7 10-08 Bloomfields John Ferguson
WHITEOUT (GER) 5 10-08 David Lawlor Willie Mullins IRE
AMINABAD (FR) 6 10-08 Gigginstown House Stud Willie Mullins IRE
LE PREZIEN (FR) 5 10-07 Million in Mind Partnership Paul Nicholls
MAD JACK MYTTON (IRE) 6 10-07 J C & S R Hitchins Jonjo O’Neill
PEARL CASTLE (IRE) 6 10-07 Cosy Seal Racing Limited Karl Burke
FOREST BIHAN (FR) 5 10-07 P J Martin Brian Ellison
MONTBAZON (FR) 9 10-07 David Sewell Alan King
JOHN CONSTABLE (IRE) 5 10-06 Walters Plant Hire Ltd Evan Williams
MODUS 6 10-06 J P McManus Paul Nicholls
CHILDRENS LIST (IRE) 6 10-06 Susannah Ricci Willie Mullins IRE
CARDINAL WALTER (IRE) 7 10-06 Fitri Hay Nicky Henderson
NOBLE INN (FR) 6 10-05 M J Mulvaney Willie Mullins IRE
KAYF BLANCO 7 10-05 Mrs L Day, H Burdett & G McPherson Graeme McPherson
AGRAPART (FR) 5 10-04 The Gascoigne Brookes Partnership III Nick Williams
DESOTO COUNTY 7 10-04 Paul & Clare Rooney Gordon Elliott IRE
PRINCELY CONN (IRE) 7 10-04 J P McManus Thomas Mullins
NABUCCO 7 10-03 Bloomfields John Ferguson
MATORICO (IRE) 5 10-03 J P McManus Jonjo O’Neill
UNANIMITE (FR) 5 10-03 Simon Munir & Isaac Souede David Pipe
STARCHITECT (IRE) 5 10-02 Paul & Clare Rooney David Pipe
MONSIEUR GIBRALTAR (FR) 5 10-02 Mrs D Thompson Paul Nicholls
EMERGING TALENT (IRE) 7 10-02 Mr & Mrs Paul Barber Paul Nicholls
VERCINGETORIX (IRE) 5 10-01 Simon Munir/Isaac Souede Gordon Elliott IRE
ZARIB (IRE) 5 10-01 Notalotterry Dan Skelton
HOLLY BUSH HENRY (IRE) 5 10-01 Lady Bamford & Alice Bamford Graeme McPherson
ZAIDIYN (FR) 6 10-01 P J Martin Brian Ellison
SCEAU ROYAL (FR) 4 10-01 Simon Munir & Isaac Souede Alan King
EBONY EXPRESS 7 10-00 ValueRacingClubcouk Dr Richard Newland
WHATSFORUWONTGOBYU (IRE) 6 10-00 J P McManus Tony Martin IRE
ROYAL GUARDSMAN (IRE) 9 9-13 Camilla & Rosie Nock Ali Stronge
FLUTE BOWL 6 9-13 C E Stedman Gary Moore
AFFAIRE D’HONNEUR (FR) 5 9-13 A Holt Harry Whittington
HERMINATOR (FR) 6 9-13 Coldunell Limited Willie Mullins IRE
THEO’S CHARM (IRE) 6 9-13 Michael O’Shea Nick Gifford
ICE COLD SOUL (IRE) 6 9-13 Gigginstown House Stud Noel Meade IRE
WINNER MASSAGOT (FR) 5 9-13 Masterson Holdings Limited Alan King
GALIZZI (USA) 5 9-12 Bloomfields John Ferguson
MICK JAZZ (FR) 5 9-11 Potensis Bloodstock Limited Harry Fry
CHIEFTAIN’S CHOICE (IRE) 7 9-10 Carl Hinchy Kevin Frost
CHAMPAGNE AT TARA 7 9-10 J P McManus Jonjo O’Neill
BABY KING (IRE) 7 9-09 About Two Weeks Tom George
FLYING ANGEL (IRE) 5 9-09 R J Rexton Nigel Twiston-Davies
BLAZER (FR) 5 9-07 J P McManus Willie Mullins IRE
SIR SCORPION (IRE) 7 9-07 J P McManus Tom Mullins IRE
CLAYTON 7 9-03 Ashley Head Gary Moore


73 entries remain (BAMAKO MORIVIERE (FR) & SIZING TENNESSEE (IRE) do not go forward)  

21 Irish-trained