Who Will Prove Elite?
The Elite Hurdle is a 2-mile grade 2 race run at Wincanton (Saturday 3.15), and the last 10 renewals have been won by four 5-year-olds, two 6-year-olds, and four 7-year-olds.
Trainer Paul Nicholls boasts 3 wins in the last decade, whilst John Ferguson and Jeremy Scott have both trained one winner.
8 runners are set to go to post for the 2015 renewal, and here’s our analysis of the big-race runners and our tip.
Paul Nicholl’s 7-year-old sets the standard but, having fallen when looking likely to win off a mark of 148 last year (carried 10-12) he runs off a mark of 154 here, and must carry top-weight.
Melodic Rendezvous 10/1
Jeremy Scott’s 9-year-old has won both his course and distance starts, including this race off a mark of 150 in 2013. He runs off just a 1lb higher mark here, but his speed may have been blunted by age and an aborted chasing career.
All Yours 3/1
No 4-year-old has won this race in the last decade, but this Paul Nicholls inmate looks above average after winning an Aintree Grade-1 on only his 5th start. Hard to know how the form of that race will work out with a few of the more fancied runners running no sort of race.
Francis of Assisi 13/2
John Ferguson’s 5-year-old won a decent flat-handicap off a mark of 104 in 2013, and returned from a while on the sidelines to begin his hurdling career with 3 decent novice hurdle wins. Certainly got the pace to handle a step-up in class, and is the preferred choice of stable jockey Aidan Coleman.
Has tended to throw-In at least one bad jump in his races so far, but is another high-rated flat horse who could be chucked-in here with a really low-weight, but Aidan Coleman has opted for Francis of Assisi.
A 4-year-old who won a course and distance novice hurdle in February, but was twice beaten off today’s mark in handicaps after that. Has the potential to improve, but was rated 20lb lower on the flat than Francis of Assisi and Buckwheat.
Likeable 9-year-old who may love racing off a light-weight, but his only two runs right-handed have been two of his worst.
Byron Blue 80/1
Look hopelessly outclassed on all known flat and hurdles form.
A 4-year-old hasn’t won this in the last decade so preference is for Francis of Assisi who looks to have really taken to hurdling. He’s also race-fit, and will hopefully take this step-up in class in his stride.
Francis of Assisi each-way @ 13/2 (Stan James, Betway)