Two Plums for tomorrow's Betfair Hurdle...

Last Updated: 12.02.2016

12th February 2016

Good afternoon, friends,

In today’s Juicy Plums bulletin….

  • Another one chalked up for the Plums….
  • This week’s target race….
  • Field-splitters & angles of attack….
  • This week’s Juicy Plum selections….

Another one chalked up to the Plums….

We chalked up another winner in last weekend’s Heroes Handicap Hurdle at Sandown.

Saddlers Encore went in having been advised at 8s on Friday evening and sent off at 5s at the off – with Join The Clan following him home having been advised at 16s and sent off at 9s. The only thing more we could have requested was to have the placings reversed – on account of the respective prices – but that would be churlish.

Saddlers Encore was the unexposed horse in the field and had only appeared once on the track since returning from an injury that saw him miss the whole of last season. He ran well enough at Wincanton and was entitled to improve for that outing. Which he did – enough to win Saturday’s race.

Pre-race I made the case that an official mark of 129 was probably short of his true level – giving him a nice edge to capitalize on. That viewpoint was probably justified by Saturday’s performance and the handicapper has now raised the horse to a rating of 135.

I’d suggest that still underplays where this horse can get to. Yes, he was all out in winning Saturday’s race but it’s probable he’s still working his way back to full fitness and better ground would likely play more to his strengths than Saturday’s surface and succeed in squeezing out quite a bit more.

In any case whatever this horse achieves over hurdles is a bonus for connections. His future lies over fences and that’s where we will see him next term. Until then he will be campaigned over hurdles and he can go in again before the season is out.

I reckon he can reach the 140s over hurdles. And if he improves again for chasing, as you’d expect, then he could be pretty smart. He’s one to keep abreast of going forward.

  • Were you on last weekend’s winner? If so, how did you bet and what prices did you get? Most importantly, what was your bottom-line outcome? If you have a moment to spare I’d love to hear the details. You can contact me direct here….

This week’s target race….

This weekend our target race is the Betfair Hurdle. This is a Grade 3 event for horses aged 4yo+. It is contested over 2 miles at Newbury tomorrow afternoon at 3.35. You can watch the race live on C4 and RUK.

A field of 22 runners goes to post on ground currently described as Heavy. Before we get into my take on where the value is in the market, let’s have a quick spin through the key pointers and splitters….

  • The Philip Hobbs-trained Cheltenian – winner of last season’s Scottish Champion Hurdle – heads the weights and carries 11-12 off his official mark of 153. At the other end of the scale Flying Angel carries 10-01 off a mark of 128.
  • In a handicap field this size you might expect a few more last-time-out winners then the 4 that go to post – Dicosimo, War Sound, Stenrubin and Blazer tick that specific box. Bear in mind that War Sound’s last-time-out win came back in May.
  • Irish-raider Blazer – who runs for the Mullins camp – is the most recent winner. He went in on Saturday at Leopardstown and carries a 5lb penalty as a result. He’s been put up 12lbs for his Leopardstown win so running off an effective mark of 131 represents an advantage.
  • Jonjo O’Neill reaches for the first-time blinkers for Matorico.
  • War Sound (280 days), Montbazon (574) & Starchitect (310) all return to the track off the back of lengthy breaks.
  • Willie Mullins arrives with 5 runners and a 14-day form record of 14 winners from 38 runners. Alan King is on-song too. His last 25 runners have produced 10 winners.
  • Barry Geraghty and Richard Johnson are the form men in the weighing room. Geraghty’s last 28 rides produced 9 winners. Johnson is 8 wins from 39 rides over the last fortnight. Geraghty rides Blazer. Johnson is onboard Stenrubin.

Field-splitters and angles of attack….

Some key statistical pointers help split the field and provide a route into the race….

  • 9 of the last 10 renewals of the Betfair Hurdle were won by horses aged 5- or 6-years-old
  • 19 of the last 26 horses to hit the frame also came from that specific age-band
  • 9 of the last 10 winners hit the first 3 on their last track appearance
  • 9 had appeared in no more than 10 hurdle races
  • 9 had won no more than one handicap race over hurdles
  • Philip Hobbs hasn’t saddled a winner over the last decade but 8 of his last 12 runners hit the top 6

If you like to find your own bets then those statistical pointers should help identify horses of interest….

This week’s Juicy Plum selections….

FOREST BIHAN was unlucky not to win last time out at Catterick. He got mugged in the last 50 yards by a rival he was giving plenty of weight to and it should be noted that jockey Danny Cock lost his whip before the final flight.

The positive is that the horse runs off the same mark of 140 tomorrow – and that is to his advantage. It has taken time for him to adapt to British conditions and hurdles since arriving from France – but that last time effort suggested things are clicking.

Trainer Brian Ellison thinks highly of the horse and expects him to announce himself as a class-act next term – maybe over fences. But he can land some prize money in the meantime and at 16s for tomorrow’s race he represents a nice each-way bet.

Ellison says this is the best horse he’s ever entered in the Betfair Hurdle. That’s a ringing endorsement when you consider he saddled Bothy who was beaten into 2nd in the dying strides of the 2011 renewal.

The other one I’m going to get onside at a very attractive price is BABY KING.

Given slightly different circumstances he too might be turning up on the back-end of a win. Last time at Wincanton he was beaten into 3rd by two horses he was giving loads of weight to.

As it is he’s only been raised a pound for what was a clear career-best effort on my figures and tomorrow he runs under a burden of just 10-01.

This horse loves soft ground, he’s in very good heart and I think he will improve again for tomorrow’s big-field fast pace. At 33s he’s just a bigger price than my book says he should be. He can outrun that quote, hit the frame and maybe a little more.

How I’ll be playing….

We don’t have to be betting in hundreds to make the game worthwhile or fun. A spend of a few quid is plenty to be going on with. I’ll be investing as follows:

  • FOREST BIHAN @ 16s (Generally)
  • BABY KING @ 33s (Generally) 

Note: Standard place terms are 1/4 1-2-3-4. But Paddy Power and Betfair Sportsbook are two firms already up with enhanced terms of 1/4 1-2-3-4-5. Shop around for the best deals.

That’s all from me this week. Enjoy your weekend.

Until next time, be lucky.


Juicy Plums