This prestigious handicap hurdle may have a new name, but the race that’s better known as the Swinton Hurdle (Saturday 2.15), is still run over 2-miles and 9 hurdles, as it has been since its inception in 1978.
In the last 10 years, it has been won by four 7-year-olds, three 6-year-olds, two 5-year-olds, and one 4-year-old, whilst 8 of the last 10 runners have carried 11-0 or less.
Of the trainers with runners today, only Evan Williams has trained two winners, and stable jockey Paul Moloney rode both of them.
17 runners are set to line-up for the 2016 Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle.
He’s only rated 4lb higher than when winning the 2015 Scottish Champion Hurdle, and 3lb lower than when a decent sixth in this last year. However, he’s older and has more weight than ideal.
Last year’s winner is rated 11lb higher this time around, and has a lot more weight to carry. He’s also had only one run all year, when twelfth in the Betfair Hurdle. May also prefer the ground a little slower.
Won the Juvenile Hurdle at last year’s Grand National meeting and will like the good ground. However, he’s made little impression in two handicaps so far this season.
Only 1lb higher than when a decent fourth in the Ladbroke, and also ran well in the Scottish Grand National. Doesn’t look obviously well-handicapped though, and plenty of weight.
Last seen winning a novice chase in November, and remains 5lb higher than his last hurdles win, which was at his favourite course.
Decent winner of the Scottish Champion Hurdle, but 7lb higher. Hard to know how strong a race that was, and worse off with a few of the beaten horses here, but could still have plenty of improvement after just 4 runs.
Beat All Yours by 5-lengths in a novice hurdle before finding the Triumph Hurdle too tough. Also highly tried on one run this season, however this good ground flat-winner could find this test an ideal challenge.
Astre De La Cour
Won an Aintree Handicap off 6lb lower mark last year, but last seen running poorly in a novice chase in October.
Wait For Me
Just 1lb higher than when fourth in a decent renewal of the County Hurdle, though all wins have been on soft ground.
Decent flat horse who took well to hurdling, and 5lb better off with Ch’tibello for 3 lengths on Scottish Champion Hurdle running. Trainer targets this race, and should run well.
A 90-rated flat horse who has won a handicap off an 8lb lower mark, but is another who has not been seen since before Christmas.
Looked a horse on the improve before unseating his rider in a grade-1 novice at Aintree. Hard to know how he’d have fared there, but likely he’s a few pounds well-in to what he might have been.
4lb higher than when third in a handicap hurdle, but jockey takes 5lb off. At the right end of the weights, but looks just fairly treated.
Trainer has a habit of improving her horses, but this one needs to find quite a bit after winning lesser races on slower ground.
All Set To Go
Rated 102 on final flat run, and could be on a good mark if he can transfer all of that ability to hurdling. That didn’t look likely at first, but he improved for good ground, but is 12lb higher than for last win.
Won have won at Ayr last time but for a late blunder, but is 10lb higher here with claimer replaced by Aidan Coleman. Only third here on last visit off a 9lb lower mark.
Should enjoy the ground, but generally runs in lower-class races.
Only 6 horses carry 11-0 or less, and the two of those that look to have the most improvement in them look to be Gwafa and All Set To Go. With so few runners carrying low-weights, good showings from Beltor and John Constable also aren’t ruled out.