Dave Nevison's Saturday selections: Ciel the deal in the Betfair Hurdle

By Dave Nevison@nevisondave
Fri 7 Feb 2020

Like everyone else, I can't wait for the Cheltenham Festival, even though there is still a month and more to go.

I have only had two ante-post bets for the meeting so far - Not So Sleepy for the Champion Hurdle and Never Adapt for the County Hurdle, but, at the prices, I have to take them both on with a horse who I hope may have more immediate claims in Newbury's Betfair Hurdle on Saturday.

The 24-runner big-money contest is just one of the highlights on what should be a cracking afternoon of jumps racing.

2.25 Newbury: Sceau Royal at a general 8-1

All eyes will be on Altior here and his record is simply phenomenal, but I feel from a betting perspective he looks one to take on here.

It is well documented that things have not gone perfectly for the favourite in the last 12 months and in my view he looked as though his reign as champion would be under threat,even when he was still winning his races last season.

Sceau Royal was the only on to really put it up to Altior in last season's Champion Chase before ultimately losing out up the hill, but he possesses a real turn of foot and this flat track might help him.

Watch again as Sceau Royal briefly gets Altior in trouble at Cheltenham

I don’t often advocate playing in running, for the simple fact that I am not very good at it, but this could be an exception as I feel he is such a traveller that he will certainly look like he might win at some point and with Altior almost certain to hit a flat spot, I might be able to make a profit, win or lose.

2.40 Warwick: Indefatigable at 11-4 with bet365 and Sky Bet

This mare has run two good and two bad races this season, so her consistent form figures flatter her slightly as she ran a shocker last time when I was on her at Sandown.

There may have been physical reasons that came to light afterwards with this mare but I am definitely prepared to forgive a horse a bad run when the Sandown ground goes testing.

I have seen several just not get going at any stage there before and her best form makes her way superior to her rivals here. Indeed, on her best she would be odds-on here for me. Her trainer has not yet had a winner this year but most have been running well - including Boughtbeforelunch on Friday - so I am not worried on that front.

3.35 Newbury: Ciel De Neige at 11-1 with bet365

The nature of this race has changed over the years and an unexposed novice always takes my eye. I am sure this one would not have been as lightly raced, had he not had his problems along the way, but he has already shown he can mix it in big field handicaps with a fine effort in last year's Fred Winter at the Festival.

He had a quiet reappearance at Fairyhouse in December and then got himself in trouble and somehow managed to get beat at odds of 1-4 over Christmas.

I cannot imagine Willie Mullins was too pleased with that result but at least his handicap mark was not affected. Aidan Coleman has picked up a cracking ride here, his first in the UK for Mullins as far as I can see. If you are playing each-way, keep in mind that Betfair and William Hill are offering six places.

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