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Thursday, 5 February 2015

Betfair Hurdle Preview

Six of the last ten winners of the Betfair Hurdle started at odds of 12/1 or longer, including Heathcote (50/1) and Splash Of Ginge (33/1) last year. This year’s renewal looks as competitive as ever, so we hope it’ll be another profitable week for those of us who like to look beyond the market leaders.

The Betfair Hurdle is a handicap, and a Grade 3 handicap at that, but you can’t tell me that, in a field of 24 runners, just two warrant odds longer than 33/1. The ante post market is, frankly, disgraceful.

Anyway, as we like to do in such circumstances, let’s have a look at one of the complete outsiders of the party. Bordoni (40/1) didn’t cut much ice on his reappearance, over 2 miles 3 furlongs, at Newbury in December, but is probably better judged on his previous start in the valuable Galway Hurdle, over 2 miles, in July. On that occasion, he kept on well to finish fifth, beaten just 4½ lengths, and is just 1lb higher in the weights here. He’s won a couple of times on soft ground and is reunited with winning jockey Brian Hughes (who’s 2-5 on the yard’s hurdlers), so his chance is by no means as forlorn as his current odds suggest.

I must confess, I had to look up the name of Sparsholt trainer Harry Whittington in the Racing Post because his name was unfamiliar to me. However, my ignorance may not prevent his promising novice Arzal (33/1) from running well at generous odds. The five-year-old French import was far from disgraced when third, beaten 9½ lengths, behind Supreme Novices’ Hurdle hopeful Jollyallan at Kempton on Boxing Day and doesn’t look overburdened for his handicap debut. He’s proven on soft ground, open to significant improvement after just three starts in this country and, although due to be ridden by a 7lb claimer, attractively weighted.

Evan Williams’ seven-year-old On Tour (16/1) appears to be improving by leaps and bounds this season and his 77-day absence suggests that he’s been trained with this race in mind, en route to the Cheltenham Festival. His recent winning form has been over further, but this should be run at a decent gallop on soft ground, so his abundance of stamina could be a blessing. Indeed, the form of his most recent win, at Haydock in November, has worked out brilliantly and he looks massively overpriced at his current odds.

So, voila mes amis, our three against the field this week, in no particular order, are Bordoni (40/1 with Coral), Arzal (33/1 Bet365, Totesport, Betfred and others) and On Tour (16/1 with Ladbrokes). Why not back the three of them in forecasts and tricasts with your local independent bookmaker and watch the colour drain from his cheeks as the field turns into the straight? Good luck!