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Tuesday, 18 December, 2018

Off You Go out to end wretched record of favourites in hot handicap

Midnight Stroll (near) is one of the big fancies following a good fourth at Leopardstown over Christmas
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4.05 Leopardstown
Coral Hurdle (Grade B handicap) | 2m, 4yo+ | RTE2/ATR

You have to go to Essex to find the last winning favourite of this hot handicap. That was the name of the Michael O'Brien-trained five-year-old who won the race in 2005. Since then there have been 12 beaten favourites and the average price of the winner has been 15-1. 

The biggest shock arrived in 2009 when 50-1 shot Penny's Bill fought off the late surge of favourite Psycho by a head. Ice Cold Soul was successful 12 months ago at 20-1, while Henry Higgins won it in 2016 at 16-1. Current market leader for this year's running is Off You Go, but punters will have to do a lot of digging if recent results are anything to go by. 

Look for lightweights 

Not since Adamant Approach in 2002 has a horse carried 11st or more to victory. 

The last three winners were Ice Cold Soul (10-2), Henry Higgins (10-10) and Katie T (10-9) so Ivanovich Gorbatov, Tigris River, and Bleu Berry have it all to do according to recent statistics as they are all carrying over 11st.

Martin might be the man 

Tony Martin last won this lucrative pot in 2003 with Xenophon but he he has gone close on numerous occasions since. 

Psycho was narrowly denied in 2009, while last year he sent out the second and third thanks to Tudor City and Golden Spear. 

Tudor City is back for more and bids to go one better off a 5lb higher mark, while 2015 Galway Hurdle winner Quick Jack is his other representative with Eoin O'Connell taking off a valuable 7lb. 

What they say 

Tony Martin, trainer of Quick Jack and Tudor City
Quick Jack has been a very good horse for us. We found that he'd a small problem after his last run, a trapped epiglottis, but we've tidied that up and he seems fresh and well. Tudor City has been treated for kissing spines and he also seems to be back in much better form so we're hopeful that the two of them can go well.

Gordon Elliott, trainer of Ben Dundee and Veinard
Ben Dundee is in good form having run second over the course and trip at Christmas. This is a hotter race but we're hoping he'll run in the money. Veinard has loads of experience and is in good order, but it's a long time since his only hurdles win and we're just hoping he runs respectably.

Henry de Bromhead, trainer of Mind's Eye and Peace News
Minds Eye has won his last two and is in great form. He won over the course at Christmas and while this looks very competitive we're happy to give it a go. Peace News was a bit disappointing last time but seems to be back in good form and we're hoping for a nice run.

Michael Mulvany, trainer of On The Go Again
We've had the County Hurdle in our thoughts ever since he won a Tipperary in October but he'd need to run well here, and possibly finish in the first three, to get into a race like that. He's the best jumps horse that I've ever had and I think there's more improvement to come from him. He should progress from his latest run.

Robert Tyner, trainer of Midnight Stroll
I think he's a nice chance despite the fact that he's a novice. He picked up a nice bit of experience here the last day and that should stand to him. He's versatile because he's won over 2m, but never in this class, and he travels away very nicely. Hopefully he'll run well.

Denise Foster, trainer of Miles To Memphis
This is a huge step up for him but he's a horse with a lot of gears and stays very well. If anything, I think he's improved a lot over the past few months and he seems to be moving as well if not better than ever. He can be lazy at home but I'd rather a horse was lazy on the gallops and good on the track.

Quick Jack: one of two contenders for handicap king Tony Martin

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He's the best jumps horse that I've ever had and I think there's more improvement to come from him
E.W. Terms
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