Novices have won seven of the last nine runnings of the Betfair Hurdle, the big betting contest at Newbury on Saturday, and Broomfield Burg, Jetoile and Jpr One are among the lightly-raced runners with an obvious chance to make it eight from 10 this weekend.
The least exposed horse in the field over hurdles, though, is Harry Fry’s seven-year-old Boothill (3.35), with just two runs over timber to date. He was an easy winner in a strong time on his only start last season and finished a close third behind Soaring Glory – last year’s winner of this race – at Ascot in October.
He is 4lb better off with that rival and has had a two-month break since a slightly underwhelming debut over fences in early December. Back over the smaller obstacles, and with track, trip and going likely to suit, he looks over-priced in the overnight betting at around 8-1.
Newbury 1.15 Refreshing though it is to see a top-notch novice like Bravesmansgame lining up for a handicap, the current form of the Paul Nicholls stable – one win from 37 before racing on Friday – is a concern as he attempts to give 16lb or more to some useful rivals. At the early odds, the progressive Pats Fancy is an obvious each-way alternative at around 5-1.
Warwick 1.35 Put a line through Marie’s Rock’s run in the Lanzarote last time, when she was almost brought to a stop at the second flight, and she has an obvious chance at around 3-1 to upset Indefatigable, the likely favourite here.
Newbury 1.50 Trip, going or both are among the question marks for several of these, so it may be worth chancing The Big Breakaway, placed at Grade One level over timber and fences, as he returns to hurdling after a wind op on what could be a very fair mark.
Warwick 2.05 Edwardstone has made rapid progress over fences this season and should confirm his status as Britain’s best two-mile novice here.
Newbury 2.25 Clan Des Obeaux is another favourite from the Nicholls stable that punters may want to handle with care. Royale Pagaille would prefer deeper ground but Venetia Williams remains in excellent form and the still-improving eight-year-old’s recent Haydock win was another career-best.
Newbury 3.00 All four runners go to post with solid chances but Funambule Sivola put up a useful performance to win a Doncaster handicap last time and has scope for better yet at the minimum trip.
Warwick 3.15 Our Power is still at an early stage of his chasing career and posted a decent time with something to spare when successful at Huntingdon last time. Raised just 2lb for that, he is a clear pick of the prices at around 6-1.