How to bet £20 ante-post on the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury

By Andy Stephens@StevoGG
Fri 3 Feb 2023

This article was first published on Tuesday February 1

Novices have a fabulous record in the Betfair Hurdle and Rubaud looks worth supporting to continue their domination at Newbury on Saturday week.

The Paul Nicholls-trained five-year-old, quoted a general 16/1, is going to be one of the most unexposed runners in the line-up for the £155,000 contest and a rating of 130 almost certainly underestimates him. Perhaps most significant, he also seems sure to be get the decent ground he favours as there is next to no rain forecast at the track over the next 11 days.

Formerly a fair performer on the Flat in France, making the frame in Group Three company on one occasion, Rubaud failed to make much impact when making his jumps/British bow in the Grade Two Adonis Hurdle last winter.

However, the fact that he started at that level tells you something and he’s impressed since being given a wind op this term, winning successive races on good going at Taunton with stacks in hand before chasing home Rare Edition in another novices' event at Kempton on Boxing Day.

Rubaud eases clear of Brentford Hope

Rubaud gave 7lb and an emphatic seven-length beating to Brentford Hope, a 102-rated Flat performer, in the second of his wins and went off favourite to stay on a roll over Christmas, but the prevailing soft ground blunted his speed and he could not keep tabs on the exciting winner in the closing stages.

Time may tell he was up against it that day, regardless of the going, as his conqueror is unbeaten in four starts and no bigger than 14/1 for the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

Rubaud is himself entered in the Supreme and I’d imagine Nicholls has had this race at the top of his agenda since learning the handicapper has allotted his young horse an initial rating of 130, not least because the prize on offer is £20,000 bigger than that up for grabs at Cheltenham.

I’ll be surprised if that is the ceiling of of Rubaud’s ability and it’s interesting that he’s in the Supreme, when his stablemates and fellow Betfair Hurdle entries Lallygag and Timeforafortune, are not. That pair are rated higher by the assessor (but not Nicholls, it seems) and would have to concede weight to Rubaud if lining up.

188 Bet Haldon Gold Cup Day - Exeter Races

Indeed, Nicholls has plenty of promising novice hurdlers at Ditcheat but he only only has three engaged in the first race of the Festival: Tahmuras, Toothless and Rubaud.

No fewer than nine of the past 13 renewals of the Betfair Hurdle have been won by a novice. With the exception of Get Me Out Of Here and Ballyandy, all of them had suffered at least one defeat beforehand, with seven of them having their first run in a handicap – six of them off a mark in the 130s. That all augurs well for Rubaud, who seems likely to receive weight from the bulk of his rivals.

Harry Cobden will no doubt have other choices in the race, including Iceo, who is in the same ownership and made an eye-catching return in defeat at Sandown. But I’ll be surprised if he looks beyond the potential of Rubaud.

Editor's note on February 7: Cobden has been pencilled in to ride Rubaud with Nicholls scratching Lallygag, Timeforafortune and Iceo.

Filey Bay, the ante-post favourite, is also a novice, albeit an unusual one as he spent 13 months on the sidelines before being switched to Emmet Mullins this campaign. His trainer’s runners are always defensively priced up by the bookmakers, and the fact the gelding has been snapped up by JP McManus since his latest victory is unlikely to help his odds inflate.

Good luck to you if you are on him at a fancy price, but I couldn’t have him on my mind at the general 7-2 that is now on offer. The form of his wins at Doncaster and Wincanton, achieved in the space of five days, is nothing special and he’s gone up an aggregate of 14lb.

I’ll also be having a small each-way bet on the Jonjo O’Neill-trained Anyharminasking at 33/1. He seems likely to always be remembered as “the only horse to have beaten Constitution Hill” and clearly their careers have taken very different paths since they met in a point-to-point.

Editor's note on February 7: Anyarminasking is now a non-runner, but put him in your Racing TV Tracker!.

Anyharminasking has been beaten in each of his three starts this term, but he looked badly in need of the run on his return and, last time, a messy race at Cheltenham was never going to show him to best advantage. In between, he was a good third at Huntingdon, when tanking through the race only to hang after the final flight.

He looks a little tricky but being buried away in a big field, in a well-run race, could show him in a different light. If he’s equipped with some sort of headgear, I’ll be taking even more interest in him.

How To Bet £20 ante-post on the Betfair Hurdle

£10 win and £3.50 each-way on Rubaud at a general 16/1

£1.50 each-way on Anyharminasking at a general 33/1

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