Barry Geraghty: played down Blazer's Betfair Hurdle hopesPICTURE: Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos)
caution over Blazer
JP MCMANUS'S two leading fancies for the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury were subject to contrasting vibes on Tuesday, with Barry Geraghty suggesting caution over Blazer but Paul Nicholls enthusing over the chances of Modus.
The duo, along with War Sound, are 6-1 co-favourite for Britain's richest handicap hurdle on Saturday, though Blazer is not yet guaranteed a run.
'A far more competitive race'
Geraghty, who rode the Willie Mullins-trained Blazer to win at Leopardstown last Saturday, said in his At The Races blog: "He enjoyed conditions and Blazer won well. It just may not have been that good a race. The form may not be very strong.
"The Betfair Hurdle will obviously be a far more competitive race. If he gets into the race and if he takes his chance, he will be carrying a 5lb penalty in a far more competitive race, so that will obviously be more difficult."
Nicholls, meanwhile, said of Modus: "He was a good bumper horse and we bought him in the summer and sold him to JP.
"He's a much more mature horse and is getting better all the time. We like him a lot and it's good race for a novice in that you might be well handicapped whereas in a year you might not be.
"He's got a lot of ability, but one thing I think is he'll be a lot better on better ground. He can cope with the soft ground. He just lacks a bit of experience, but one thing he does do is jump well."
The champion trainer added: "I think there's a lot of improvement to come from him because he's learning to settle. I'm very happy with him and he's a high-class horse. He's a horse who's going to get two and a half miles in time, but he's not slow. "
The main market mover on Tuesday was Richard Johnson's likely mount Sternrubin, who was cut into 10-1 (from 12).
Coral's David Stevens said: "Philip Hobbs is enjoying a great season, and his Sternrubin has been backed to continue his good run this weekend with more big handicap hurdle success."