Betfair Hurdle runner guide and tips for Newbury’s top handicap
Newbury's fascinating rescheduled card is the highlight for racing fans on Sunday.
Moved to this weekend after cold weather scuppered its original February date, the programme features plenty of Cheltenham Festival hopefuls.
Robbie Power is back from Ireland to partner 2020 Gold Cup third Lostintranslation in the Grade 2 Betfair Denman Chase (2.25), for a clash with Clan Des Obeaux.
Champ is also preparing for the Cheltenham feature, with a rare step back in trip in the Grade 2 Betfair Game Spirit Chase (3.00).
For punters, the biggest betting race of the day is the Grade 3 Betfair Hurdle (3.35).
Cadzand heads the market, after the withdrawal of original favourite Metier.
Here is Mirror Racing's horse-by-horse guide for the richest handicap hurdle in Britain:
1. Buzz 12-1*
Impressed with his progression this season, winning well at Ascot and following that up with a second behind an enterprisingly ridden rival. Has a tough task off top weight but talented conditional booked.
2. Gumball 40-1
Chasing of late and disappointed behind Cheltenham Festival 'banker' Shishkin last time. Appeared to have peaked over hurdles prior to that.
3. Wild Max 20-1
Hat-trick seeker after successes in weaker races. Mark still looks on the high side compared to some, although Angus Cheleda takes 7lb off.
4. Friend Or Foe 25-1
Running with credit this season following a long absence, proving his effectiveness on softer ground. Looks held by Guard Your Dreams on their Sandown form.
5. Edwardstone 12-1
Has a 5lb penalty to carry for his return win over hurdles. Quickened clear on heavy ground that day and has previously looked the type to go close in a big handicap.
6. For Pleasure 20-1
An all-the-way winner at Cheltenham in November and the second has scored since. Another bold front-running effort will be harder to pull off here.
7. Fred 40-1
A last-minute declaration due to the ground drying up, has questions to answer having disappointed over fences when last seen 107 days ago.
8. Thyme White 16-1
Comfortably best in a race at Chepstow's first big meeting, his mark rose 11lb to 141. Then appeared to race awkwardly at this track. Has each-way appeal if that effort can be forgiven.
9. Highway One O Two 50-1
Not at his best this campaign and 42 lengths behind Guard Your Dreams at Sandown. Difficult to consider in current form.
10. Milkwood 14-1
Has consistency to match his talent. Unlucky last time at Newbury when hampered in-running. May still be ahead of his mark.
11. Lightly Squeeze 22-1
Best effort of the season came at Ascot, when he was third in a Grade 3 handicap, a length-and-a-half behind Buzz. Race panned out better for him tactically than that horse. Bryan Carver's 3lb helps his cause.
12. Mister Coffey 10-1
Three from five so far and tends to race keenly. Found it tough to make up ground on heavy last time out, upped to a mark of 138. Looks just the type to relish this test, for the race's most successful trainer.
13. Cadzand 11-2
The favourite and won very well at Kempton on his way here. Dan Skelton often unearths a decent handicap hurdler and his representative is firmly on an upward curve.
14. Shakem Up'Arry 16-1
Harry Redknapp's runner has bumped into some useful performers during his career and has just the one win to his name. He was 12 lengths behind the original favourite for this, Metier, at Sandown, which wasn't the strongest of races for the grade. Can do better in handicaps.
15. Guard Your Dreams 16-1
A three-time winner in 2020-21, he is 7lb higher for his most recent victory. Did it well that day given his inexperience. An interesting contender.
16. Annual Invictus 16-1
Enjoys testing ground and has raced to three successes in novice company. Form might not be the strongest for a mark of 135, however.
17. Galice Macalo 25-1
A tough mare, she was denied victory late on at Sandown in December (Mister Coffey third). Fifth in the Tolworth (Shakem Up'Arry second), she pulled hard on that occasion. Place possibilities if freshened up by a short break.
18. Soaring Glory 6-1
Interesting runner for Jonjo O'Neill, who won this in 2010 with Get Me Out Of Here and supported in recent days. Defeated the talented Bravemansgame on seasonal debut, so a mark of 133 may be lenient. Has to match his big engine in the jumping department.
19. Night Edition 66-1
Second in the 2020 Fred Winter at the Cheletnham Festival. Seasonal debut was below par. Hard to weigh up.
20. Mack The Man 20-1
Sent off at 15/2 for this last year and pushed along when brought down at the final flight. A horse that can finish well, he suggested that it was worth another go. Has a 5lb penalty, after going up just 2lb in the weights. Plenty of potential.
21. Fifty Ball 14-1
A decent French recruit by Gary Moore's team. Seemed to take a while to get used to racing over here and recorded a stylish win at Sandown 78 days ago. It wasn't a particularly strong race however and he will have to take another leap forward now.
22. Glory And Fortune 25-1
Wears a first-time tongue strap and hood. Hasn't fired over fences so far. Back to hurdles seeking a revival of fortunes.
23. On To Victory 16-1
Representing shrewd connections in big races under both codes – and this representative took the 2020 November Handicap. Lightly-weighted and can make a case for him on some form lines.
24. Ballinsker 33-1
Still in contention at the final hurdle in the Greatwood at Cheltenham, he weakened in the last 100 yards to finish sixth. That was a very good run as he had so little experience. Moved poorly in a jumpers bumper subsequently.
VERDICT: MISTER COFFEY can give Nicky Henderson his sixth success in the race.
The unexposed hurdler has plenty of talent and a useful burst of speed at the end of his races.
In his first handicap he impressively drew clear and previously outsprinted Shakem Up'Arry at this track.
Softer ground blunted his finishing kick last time – and he should be much more at home under the conditions on Sunday.
A decent pace should help his headstrong ways and this has been a long-term target.
At bigger prices than the selection, Edwardstone and Milkwood are two of the likely candidates in a quality renewal.
* Best odds at the time of publication, subject to change
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