High Bridge leads the way as 27 remain in the mix for Betfair Hurdle honours

Mon 5 Feb 2018

High Bridge has been left at the head of the weights for Saturday's valuable Betfair Hurdle as all the leading contenders stood their ground at the confirmation stage.

With neither Elgin nor Pingshou left in the Newbury heat, the Ben Pauling-trained High Bridge now will have to shoulder 11st 12lb with Willie Mullins' Bleu Et Rouge next best on 11st 10lb.

Ante-post favourite Lalor is still in the mix for Kayley Woollacott, with Nicky Henderson having five to choose from in Verdana Blue, Charli Parcs, Kayf Grace, Lough Derg Spirit and the revitalised Jenkins, who is able to run off his old mark of 143 rather than his new perch of 151.

Donald McCain has two possibles in Chti Balko and the novice Waterlord, but the ground will dictate which of the pair will run.

"It will very much be one or the other," said McCain.

"If the ground goes heavy again it will suit Chti Balko, but if it continues to dry up a bit that will very much suit Waterlord, so we've got one for each eventuality.

"With Waterlord it was simply a case at Haydock (last time) of trying him on heavy ground once too often. If we'd ridden him to come second we probably would have been, but he ended up fourth by trying to beat the winner (First Flow) who loved the ground.

"I've always thought Waterlord wants nice ground, but circumstances have meant he's been running on heavy.

"Chti Balko is very much at home on very deep ground, so we'll need to have a lot of rain for him to run."

Divin Bere, Moon Racer, Misterton, Kalashnikov and Poppy Kay are other major contenders.

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