The Betfred Mobile Heroes Handicap Hurdle hasn’t been a source of generously priced winners in recent years, but winners at 16/1 and 10/1 in the last three renewals give some cause for encouragement. As usual, we’ve looked beyond the market leaders to see if we can find two or three who could belie their starting prices.
It’s frankly difficult to make a case for Pay The King or Anteros, at any price, but Ben Case’s nicely bred 7-year-old Mr Grey has only had four starts under Rules and could still be open to significant improvement. A wide margin point-to-point winner in the spring, he is blessed with an abundance of stamina and has plenty of form on soft and heavy going. He steps up in class off a 6lb higher mark, following his second at Wetherby three weeks ago, so clearly needs to progress again, but that’s by no means out of the question and 14/1 may underestimate his chance.
El Dancer is the oldest horse in the race, but proved he is no back number when second, beaten just a length, at Ludlow earliest this month, after the best part of two years off. He, too, has stamina to burn and goes well under testing conditions, so 2 miles 6 furlongs around Sandown on the prevailing soft going should suit him admirably. The booking of Richard Johnson offers cause for optimism and, at 14/1, he looks a shade overpriced.
Notwithstanding a fall on his latest outing at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day, Invicta Lake has run creditably in defeat since winning over 3 miles 1½ furlongs at Plumpton and may yet have more to offer. Suzy Smith’s 8-year-old remains 7lb higher in the weights than when last winning, but is another who should be staying on when a few of the more, ‘fragile’ shall we say, stayers have cried enough.
This year’s renewal of the Betfred Mobile Heroes Handicap is particularly tricky; it’s difficult to make a ‘watertight’ case for any single runner but, by the same token, it’s difficult to rule out any one of them with any degree of confidence. In any case, it’s our job to tilt at windmills, so our three against the field this week are, in no particular order, Mr Grey (14/1), El Dancer (14/1) and Invicta Lake (12/1). Good luck!
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, if those three occupy the first three places, you may not be hearing from us for a while!!