The Betfair Hurdle, worth a mere £88,272.50 to the winner, takes centre stage at Newbury with 16 runners going to post.
Still known as ‘The Schweppes’ in some quarters, this 2 miler is always run at a frantic pace and has, historically, been a graveyard for favourites.
Carrying that mantle at 3.35 this afternoon is the Nigel Twiston-Davies trained Ballyandy, whose last win was in the Festival Bumper, nearly a year ago. In its three hurdle races this season, it has twice been beaten by Moon Racer and latterly by Messire Des Obeaux, which horse narrowly failed to shoulder an 8lb penalty in the Sydney Banks at Huntingdon earlier this week.
The trainer was eulogising over the mark given to Ballyandy for its first handicap, but the strict form suggests 135 is fair, but not generous, so at a meagre 4-1 I’ll leave it, thanks.
More attractive at around 12-1 with Paddy Power is Alan King’s 6-y-o William H Bonney, which, as everyone knows, was the given name of Billy The Kid. (Ah! I get the headline now’)
Just two runs this season, in late December and late last month, Billy won a Class 2 handicap at Cheltenham, beating 13 others by a lot more than the official distances. Still entitled to come on for that run, this agile, quick jumper can show itself to be way ahead of the 137 it carries today and rates a decent each way punt. Just to be clear, in case you had a heavy night, the horse is called William H Bonney and is No.7 on the card.
Down at the bottom of the weights lurks another beast worthy of a small e/w investment and that is Gassin Golf, which is available in places at a juicy 25-1. Since returning from a year off with an injury, this horse has shown it retains all the ability that enabled it to win a handicap over course and distance off today’s mark of 133 and finish close up in the Scottish Champion Hurdle off 141 at this time of year in 2015. Kept fresh for this, Kerry Lee’s charge should give you a run for your hard-earned at very much a working man’s price.