- All of the last 12 winners were rated under 136
- All of the last 12 winners had won a maximum of 2 hurdle races
- All of the last 12 winners had raced at least twice that Season
- 11 of the last 12 winners carried less than 11-00 (All 11-02 or less)
- 11 of the last 12 winners last ran 16 – 60 days ago
- 10 of the last 12 winners had their last run in a class 1 – 4 hurdle race
- 10 of the last 12 winners had run fewer than 9 times over hurdles
- 10 of the last 12 winners were aged 4-6yo
The Pipes (Martin and David) have farmed this race in the last 20 years with 7 wins and 9 places between them with the third of David's 3 wins coming in 2014.
Phillip Hobbs has had 1 win and 5 places from 16 runners, Gary Moore has had 6 places from his 21 runners and Lucy Wadham 1 win and 2 places from 10 runners.
Those with poor records include Venetia Williams (1 place from 16 runners), Paul Nicholls (3 places from 14 runners) and Alan King (all 11 runners unplaced)
Three winners and 8 placed runners had their last start on Newbury's Betfair Hurdle card. 2 of the 3 winners ran in the Betfair Hurdle but 1 winner and a place came via the Class 3 Novice Hurdle at the meeting.
CALL ME LORD - He's a lightly raced ex-French trained 5yo who has won twice in handicap company from two runs over course and distance. Two starts back he won quite easily from top weight from a 9lb lower mark and last time out he wasn't that far behind winner Elgin when third in the Grade 2 Kingwell Hurdle. His chance has to be respected even from top weight.
CHTI BALKO - He's been doing okay in handicaps this Season but after a 6 length romp at Haydock he was put up to a rating of 142 from which he's struggled in two subsequent races. Back down 2lb to 140 he still looks a little high in the weights and is overlooked.
WHATSWRONGWITHYOU - The second of Nicky Henderson runners he comes here looking for the hat-trick after a couple of easy Newbury novice hurdle wins (including the same race Scorned won on his way to winning here in 2004). As an unexposed 7yo with just 3 hurdles runs under his belt he is just the type that has been doing well in this race over the last decade or so.
LE PATRIOTE - An ex-French 6yo who travels well in his racing but didn't quite get home over 2m5f in the Lanzarote on his UK debut run. He got off the mark this side of the Channel when winning a decent Ascot handicap over 2m3f last time out but is up lb for that win and now runs over 3f less. He's no doubt got more to give but may find the 2 miles a bit sharp for him.
HUNTSMAN SON - He won a couple of class 4 handicaps in early December but from an 11lb higher mark hasn't quite matched that form in two subsequent class 2 handicaps. Last time out he ran a good second to Remiluc on Cheltenham Trials Day but is up another 2lb and I'm not sure this 8yo is that well handicapped at present.
FIDUX - Unlucky to unseat his rider over C&D back in November he again ran well to be 4th in a Listed race back at this track a month later from a 2lb higher mark. Nowhere near as good at Taunton next time out and he's up against it with another 1lb on his back for a trainer with a dreadful record in this race (all 11 runners unplaced).
SILVER STREAK - Evan Williams has done well with this 5yo since getting him from Ann Duffield at the end of 2016. Two minor wins in handicap company last year was a good springboard to a class 2 handicap win first time up this Season. He followed that with a second in a top handicap at Ascot but unseated early in the Betfair Hurdle. Definite chances on his Ascot run.
HIGHWAY ONE O ONE - Ex point to pointer who won a NH Flat race by 15 lengths on his debut under rules before running 1-2-2-1 in 4 novice hurdles. He won by 15 lengths last time out but it's difficult to get a firm grip on his form and know whether a rating of 133 is fair or not. I suspect the latter.
MASTER OF IRONY - Experienced flat horse who did well over hurdles at the beginning of the season but hasn't been seen since running on very strongly to snatch 4th in a Newbury handicap at the start of December. Same mark today and can't be ruled out if fit enough to do himself justice.
CASTAFIORE - Consistent run of form over hurdles this Season including winning a couple of Class 4 handicaps. She made all the running last time out at Uttoxeter to score an easy 12 length win in heavy ground. She's only a 5yo and is progressive but a 10lb rise in a much more competitive race could find her falling a little short.
MR ANTOLINI - Nigel Twiston-Davies wasted no time in getting a win out of this one with victory on his UK debut having come over from Ireland 3 weeks previously. He wasn't able to follow that win up next time out when second at Huntingdon from a 7lb higher mark and has another 4lb to contend with here. He does have a claimer taking 3lb off but this is another step up in class and it may be beyond him.
OCTAGON - After two odds-on victories in sellers and a comfortable win last time out in a run of the mill class 4 handicap at Sedgefield this 8yo comes here on a 4 timer. From a 9lb higher mark he has it all to do in this company and wouldn't be on my shortlist.
FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHT - Coming from the Pipe stable Friday Night Light has to command huge respect especially as he has been in top form this year. A win in a Newbury handicap has been followed by two runners up finishes with his length second to Le Patriote last time out at Ascot the pick of his form. He's up 5lb for that run but it looks like he's still improving and he can't be ruled out lightly.
BIRCH HILL - Sophie Leech has done well with this Nicky Henderson cast off and has won 3 low class races with him either side of two pulled up efforts in much better company. Last time out he won by 10 lengths but got hammered 11lb by the handicapper and back up in class again he may just be found wanting.
GASSIN GOLF - A 9yo who has finished 2nd-3rd-10th in 3 of the last 4 runnings of this race. He's 7lb & 8lb better off in the ratings than he was for the last two of those runs but a record of 1 win and 13 places from 25 hurdles races suggests a place is the best he can hope for again.
SHANROE SAINT - Still a maiden and beaten the last twice in lower grade handicaps (has the beating of Mr Antolini on their run at Leicester) suggests he's unlikely to get off the mark in this much tougher race.
MAN OF PLENTY - He's putting together a nice collection of solid efforts in top grade handicaps without really threatening to win one. Probably didn't stay the near 3 mile trip of the Heroes Handicap at this course last time out but still ran an okay race. Although a Grade 3 handicap this isn't anywhere near as competitive as some of the races he's contested this Season and back down to 2 miles he must have a chance of at least making the places.
Quite a lot of these are stepping up in class having run well in a lower grade last time out. The pick of these is Nicky Henderson's WHATSWRONGWITHYOU who has just the sort of profile that's done well in the race recently. David Pipe's FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHT has to be respected from down the bottom of the weights but I prefer to have a small each way wager at a big price on the bottom weight MAN OF PLENTY who may find this a little easier than the company he's been keeping of late.
SELECTION: WHATSWRONGWITHYOU 9/2
DANGER: FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHT 8/1
EACH WAY: MAN OF PLENTY 50/1
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