Betfair Hurdle: Five key trends and talking points

Jumps racing at Newbury
The Betfair Hurdle is the feature race at Newbury on Sunday

Did you know that novices have won seven of the last 10 renewals of the Betfair Hurdle? Timeform's Adam Houghton discusses the key trends and talking points ahead of the latest edition of the race at Newbury on Sunday...

"Nine of the 24 runners on Sunday still retain novice status and seven of them hold an entry in the Supreme..."

Timeform on the Betfair Hurdle

AGE
Smart Stat - The last 10 winners of the Betfair Hurdle have all been aged five or six

Five-year-olds have won six of the last 10 editions of the Betfair Hurdle, while the other four renewals during that period have all been won by six-year-olds. The 24 runners on Sunday include four five-year-olds in Thyme White, Guard Your Dreams, Galice Macalo and Night Edition, while the 12 six-year-olds in the line-up include leading contenders such as Mister Coffey, Cadzand and Soaring Glory.

By contrast, only three horses aged seven or above have won the Betfair Hurdle since the turn of the century, namely Copeland (aged seven in 2002), Spirit Leader (seven in 2003) and Geos (nine in 2004). That could count against the likes of Buzz (seven) and Edwardstone (seven) and Milkwood (seven) in the 2021 renewal.

FAVOURITES
Smart Stat - Favourites have won five of the last 10 renewals of the Betfair Hurdle

Favourites have been profitable to follow in the last 10 renewals of the Betfair Hurdle. Five have been successful, namely Zarkandar (11/4 in 2012), My Tent Or Yours (5/1 in 2013), Ballyandy (3/1 in 2017), Kalashnikov (8/1 co-favourite in 2018) and Al Dancer (5/2 in 2019).

Cadzand is shading favouritism in the ante-post betting for this year's renewal, leaving Soaring Glory as the only other horse currently trading at single-figure odds.

The winners of the other five renewals since 2011 have perhaps been harder to find, with each of them being sent off at odds of 12/1 or above. That group includes a pair of winners at 33/1 in Splash of Ginge (2014) and Pic d'Orhy (2020), which will give cause for optimism for anyone who fancies an outsider on Sunday.

NOVICES
Smart Stat - Novices have won seven of the last 10 renewals of the Betfair Hurdle

Novices have an excellent record in recent editions of the Betfair Hurdle, winning seven of the last 10 renewals. They include My Tent Or Yours (2013) and Kalashnikov (2018), both of whom went on to fill the runner-up spot in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

Nine of the 24 runners on Sunday still retain novice status and seven of them hold an entry in the Supreme, including Cadzand and Fifty Ball. That pair both have a small 'p' attached to their Timeform rating, denoting that they are still open to more improvement. A big performance from either of them on Sunday could well shake up the ante-post betting for the Supreme.

TRAINERS
Smart Stat - Nicky Henderson is the most successful trainer in the history of the Betfair Hurdle with five wins

Five of the trainers with runners in this year's Betfair Hurdle have previously won the race. They include Gary Moore (2007, 2008 and 2015) and Nigel Twiston-Davies (2014, 2017 and 2019), who have each landed the prize on three occasions. Moore is set to field Fifty Ball in the 2021 edition, while Twiston-Davies will be seeking a fourth win in the race courtesy of Guard Your Dreams.

However, the most successful trainer in the history of the Betfair Hurdle is Nicky Henderson, who has previously won the race with Sharpical (1997), Geos (2000 and 2004), Landing Light (2001), and My Tent Or Yours (2013).

Henderson will be double-handed as he attempts to bring up his sixth win in the race on Sunday, with top-weight Buzz and Mister Coffey, who will be partnered by stable jockey Nico de Boinville, both looking to hold solid claims.

WEIGHT
Smart Stat - Horses carrying 11-5 or less have won nine of the last 10 renewals of the Betfair Hurdle

Al Dancer carried 11-8 when winning the rescheduled Betfair Hurdle at Ascot in 2019, making him the only horse in the last 10 years to have won the race under more than 11-5. There are five horses in the 2021 renewal who will be tasked with trying to achieve a similar weight-carrying feat, namely Buzz (11-12), Gumball (11-10), Wild Max (11-7), Friend Or Foe (11-6) and Edwardstone (11-6).

It's worth pointing out that it wasn't the strongest renewal of the Betfair Hurdle which Al Dancer won. For context, Al Dancer possessed a BHA mark of 141 when successful in 2019, whereas Zarkandar (rated 151 in 2011), My Tent Or Yours (149 in 2013) and Pic d'Orhy (146 in 2020) were all rated higher but carried less weight to victory.

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