Lalor and Kayf Grace head market as 59 entries revealed for Betfair Hurdle

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The Grade 3 Betfair Hurdle has attracted 59 entries for the 2018 renewal, and the sponsors make Lalor and Kayf Grace their 10/1 joint-favourites for the 2m contest at Newbury on February 10.

Local Lambourn trainer Nicky Henderson boasts a record number of wins in the race with five successes, most recently when saddling My Tent Or Yours to victory in 2013.

There are nine entries from his Seven Barrows yard in 2018, more than any other trainer, including Betfair’s 10/1 joint-favourite Kayf Grace. A G2 bumper winner at Aintree in 2016, the eight-year-old mare won her only start last season but looked as good as ever when scoring at Kempton Park over Christmas.

Henderson’s entries also include recent Sandown scorer Call Me Lord (14/1), last season’s G1 Triumph Hurdle sixth Charli Parcs (16/1) and Verdana Blue (16/1), who was third in a valuable G3 handicap hurdle at Ascot last month. Diese Des Bieffes (12/1) looks a very useful novice, with easy victories at Taunton and Fontwell this season.

Other possible starters for the champion Jump trainer include William Henry (20/1), a talented novice last season, plus Charming Zen (20/1), Lough Derg Spirit (20/1) and Jenkins (33/1).

The other 10/1 joint-favourite with Betfair is Lalor (Richard Woollacott), a G2 bumper winner at Aintree in April who has been placed in some decent novices’ hurdles so far this season.

Somerset-based handler Philip Hobbs has made two entries, headed by last season’s G1 Triumph Hurdle victor Defi Du Seuil (14/1). His other is the mare Poppy Kay (16/1) who landed a Listed contest at Sandown Park on January 6.

A real Newbury specialist is High Bridge (Ben Pauling, 14/1), who has won three times from as many starts at the Berkshire course.

The seven-year-old was last seen out when successful in the Listed Ladbrokes Intermediate Handicap Hurdle over the course and distance on December 2, having won two novices’ hurdles at Newbury last season.

High Bridge races in the colours of Margaret Ferguson, mother of the horse’s former trainer John Ferguson. For all his successes at Newbury, High Bridge has been partnered by John’s son, amateur rider Alex Ferguson.

Ben Pauling revealed: “The Betfair Hurdle is very much the aim for High Bridge.

“He has been very good since his win at Newbury last time out and the Betfair Hurdle has been the target since then. We purposely avoided Ascot (December 23) as we wanted to prepare him for Newbury.

“The horse seems in good order and hopefully will remain that way for the Betfair Hurdle. We will go straight to Newbury.

“He is unbeaten at Newbury and really seems to like it there. It wasn’t our intention to make the running last time and he will be much better with a lead. I’d be confident of him getting that in the Betfair Hurdle.

“He seems to handle most types of ground and we should hopefully get a nice weight.”

The Betfair Hurdle has gone to Ireland on three occasions, mostly recently via the Jessica Harrington-trained Spirit Leader in 2003.

There are 11 Irish-trained contenders this year, with seven entries from Willie Mullins and four from Gordon Elliott. Among the Mullins-trained septet is G1 winner Bleu Et Rouge (14/1)and Lagostovegas (20/1), who was third on the Flat in the Cesarewitch Handicap at Newmarket in the autumn, while Elliott’s quartet includes Duca De Thaix (25/1), a G3 winner at Limerick over Christmas.

Paul Nicholls, who landed the 2012 Betfair Hurdle with Zarkandar, has four entries this year including dual G1 Fighting Fifth Hurdle winner Irving (33/1), recent G1 Tolworth Hurdle third Mont Des Avaloirs (25/1) and Cliffs Of Dover (25/1), who won six of his seven starts last season.

Nigel Twiston-Davies has taken the honours in the Betfair Hurdle twice in the last four years, scoring with Splash Of Ginge (2014) and more recently with Ballyandy (2017). His one entry in 2018 is El Terremoto (50/1), a winner at Stratford in October.

Gary Moore also has a fine Betfair Hurdle record, having enjoyed success with Heatchcote (2007), Wingman (2008) and Violet Dancer (2015). His two possible starters in 2018 are recent Fontwell winner Knocknanuss (25/1) and French import Maquisard (66/1).

Other interesting contenders include Elgin (Alan King, 16/1), successful in valuable handicap hurdles at Ascot and Cheltenham already this season, smart novice Kalashnikov (Amy Murphy, 14/1), recent Ascot runner-up Silver Streak (Evan Williams, 12/1) and Moon Racer (David Pipe, 20/1), who landed the 2015 Champion Bumper but has been lightly-raced since. Lostintranslation(Colin Tizzard, 16/1) was a good winner of a maiden hurdle over the course and distance on December 1 and looks a potentially unexposed contender.

Olly Murphy, who has made a great start to his training career, has an intriguing entry in Wishfull Dreaming (25/1), who has joined the Warwickshire-based handler from Philip Hobbs.

Betfair spokesman, Barry Orr, commented today: “At this early stage, Lalor and Kayf Grace head our market at 10/1 and such is the competitive nature of this race that three-time Grade 1 winner, Defi du Seuil, is a 14/1 shot.

“Nicky Henderson will be bidding for a sixth win in the race and one of his charges, Diese des Bieffes, has been attracting support at 12/1.”

Betfair Hurdle, Betfair odds: 10/1 Lalor, Kayf Grace; 12/1 Diese des Bieffes, Lostintranslation, Silver Streak; 14/1 Defi du Seuil, Call Me Lord, High Bridge, Bleu Et Rouge, Kalashnikov, Lough Derg Spirit; 16/1 Elgin, Pingshou, Charli Parcs, Verdana Blue, Misterton, Poppy Kay; 20/1 Campeador, Lagostovegas, William Henry, Moon Racer, Charming Zen, Irish Roe, William H Bonney, Coeur Blimey; 25/1 Divin Bere, Mont des Avaloirs, Meri Devie, Dame Rose, Knocknanuss, Waterlord, Spiritofthegames, Wishfull Dreaming, Magic Dancer, Ben Dundee, Duca de Thaix, Dolciano Dici, Cliffs of Dover; 33/1 Irving, Mister Miyagi, Voix du Reve, Chti Balko, Project Bluebook, Remiluc, Master of Irony, Jenkins, Nietzsche, Night of Sin, Veinard, Karalee, Sandsend; 40/1 Gwafa, Zalvados, Canyon City; 50/1 El Terremoto, Maquisard; 66/1 Man of Plenty, Bidourey, Birch Hill

Weights for the Betfair Hurdle will be revealed on Wednesday, January 17.


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