Barters Hill bids to pick up threads of promising career after 15-month absence
Barters Hill, who looked destined for stardom two years ago when going into the 2016 Cheltenham Festival unbeaten, bids to get his career back on track when he returns from a 15-month absence in the staying handicap hurdle at Newbury on Saturday.
Ben Pauling’s seven-time scorer, conqueror of champion hurdler Buveur D’Air and Grade 1-winning chaser Politologue in 2015 before finishing fourth in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle, slipped a tendon off his hock on his chasing debut at Cheltenham and has been on the sidelines since.
“He’s in great order for Newbury,” Pauling said. “He’s been working with some very nice two-milers and certainly gives the impression he retains a hell of a lot of ability.
“We’ve put him in the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham and he’ll also get a Coral Cup entry, but he’s got to come through Saturday with flying colours for those to become options. There’s no point being unrealistic.”
Pauling, whose team exploded back to form on Monday with a Southwell three-timer and added a Tuesday winner at Market Rasen after a two-month spell on the cold list, fields three-time Newbury scorer High Bridge in the £155,000 Betfair Hurdle.
“He’s in great order too, and did a fast piece of work in Lambourn on Saturday,” Pauling said. “He looks very well, and I think he’s got a massive chance with Alex Ferguson taking 7lb off him.
“His last run at the track was very good. He made the running that day, which didn’t really suit him, and the stronger pace on Saturday will play more to his strengths.”
Pauling’s patience has been rewarded following a frustrating time during which his team was hit by a virus.
“I’d say 25 to 30 per cent of them had head colds,” Pauling said. “We’ve just had to go easy on them for a few weeks before upping their work again. Obviously I’m delighted with the way they’re running now.”
Another bang-in-form trainer Donald McCain intends to send major ante-post gamble Waterlord, who is owned by respected form student and punter Matthew Taylor, into Betfair Hurdle battle.
Available at 25-1 with bet365 on Tuesday morning, those odds were cut to 12-1 over the following 24 hours, with several other firms quoting 10-1, and McCain said: “He’s an improving young horse who wants better ground than he’s been running on this winter.
“I don’t know anything about the gamble, but I must admit I thought he was overpriced when I saw the prices at the beginning of the week and he does have a very good owner who knows the time of day!
“He’s Flat-bred and all his best form before he came to me was on nice ground. He’s got an entry in the Supreme next month, and this race fits in well.”
The entire course at Newbury is currently under covers, with the going described as good to soft, soft in places.
Temperatures are forecast to dip to -1C on Friday night but rise to a maximum of 7C on Saturday.
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