The fourth race on our Road To Cheltenham is the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury on Saturday afternoon. With a full field of 24 lining up, finding the winner will be tricky. Check out our preview of some of the fancied runners below to help you make your selection. There is also a strong supporting card at Newbury, with dual Cheltenham Festival winner Altior making his seasonal reappearance and Gold Cup 3rd Native River in action.
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10th Feb: Betfair Hurdle, 15:35 Newbury
Champion Trainer Nicky Henderson holds another strong hand in a race he has won 5 times. He has 5 runners in this year’s event, with Jenkins, Verdana Blue and Kayf Grace all currently priced at 10/1 with ComeOn! Jenkins has been in fine form since the application of blinkers and will once again be partnered by in-form jockey James Bowen. Verdana Blue has an entry in the Champion Hurdle and Henderson has stated this week that is still an intended target. She is obviously held in high regard and if things fall right for her, she has a big chance.
The current favourite is Irish Roe (15/2) trained by Peter Atkinson. This would be an unlikely victory for a trainer who only has two horses in his care. She pushed in form Maria’s Benefit all the way last time and is due to go up in the weights in the future. She gets in at the bottom of the handicap here but may be lacking in experience compared to todays rivals.
Of the others Lalor (10/1) is another who lacks experience but could prove ahead of the handicapper while Waterlord (12/1) was a smart bumper before possibly finding the heavy ground unsuitable last time. At the top of the handicap is the Ben Pauling trained High Bridge. He holds no secrets from the handicapper but his form this season is rock solid, and he has won 3 times here. Priced up at 18/1 with ComeOn, he should put on another good display at a course he loves.
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*Prices correct at time of publication