Bookies go 9-1 the field for ultra-competitive contest
EBF & TBA Mares' "National Hunt" Novices' Hurdle Finale (A Limited Handicap) (Grade 2) | 2m4½f | 4yo+ | ITV4/RUK
Where do you start when bookmakers go 9-1 the field about a race full of 17 progressive, unexposed mares and featuring nine last-time-out winners?
Charlie Longsdon's Snow Leopardess has been made favourite, but Alan King's Tara View, who is unbeaten this season, and the RPR top-rated pair of Copper Kay and Pearl Royale also hold solid claims. As does Harry Fry's Lamanver Odyssey, who is a full sister to last year's demoted winner Lady Of Lamanver for the same connections.
There has been just one winner at a price bigger than 14-1 in the last ten years, with three winning favourites in that time. The market on the day could therefore provide a strong guide.
Nicky Henderson and Oliver Sherwood have won six of the last ten renewals between them but have won just one of the last five. Alan King and Charlie Longsdon are the other trainers with representatives who have won this in the past decade.
Six of the last ten winners were aged six, while a further three were five-year-olds. Last year's winner Briery Queen was the only horse aged seven or older to win.
What they say
Alan King, trainer of Tara View and Cajun Fiddle
I’m very hopeful for Tara View as she's won her last four starts – a bumper and three hurdle races – and this has been her target for some time. She's in very good form and I hope we don't get too much rain as I think she's at her best on good ground. I'm also hoping for a decent effort from Cajun Fiddle, who has been pretty consistent this season, winning once and finishing in the frame every time.
Oliver Sherwood, trainer of Hitherjacques Lady
It's been a lucky race for us, we've won it four or five times, but whether she's got 7lb too much time will tell. Ideally I'd like the ground to be softer but she's a very progressive mare – it's just a question of whether there's one lurking lower down the weights.
Nigel Hawke, trainer of Pearl Royale
She couldn't do any more than she did last time and she's been going the right direction all season. This trip on good to soft around Newbury should be ideal for her. With that in mind, we're going there with a nice chance.
Nicky Henderson, trainer of Theatre Territory
I hope the ground has dried up a little bit, that would help because it's been too soft for her recently. She was unlucky not to win at Newbury two meetings ago.
Paul Webber, trainer of Miss Tongabezi
She seems to be thriving this spring and the better ground may help her. She's the fifth generation of this family to race from this yard so she's a bit like handling the crown jewels. Fergus [Gregory, jockey] arrived in September and he's only 18 but he gets on well with this mare and deserves his chance – he's a promising rider and takes off a handy 10lb.
Charlie Longsdon, trainer of Snow Leopardess
She's gone well all season and was an impressive winner at Gowran Park in September. That form looks extremely strong and I'm looking forward to seeing her run off what looks like a potentially nice handicap mark. Hopefully the ground is not too soft.