Timeform's Ben Fearnley previews the Betfair Cash Out Handicap Hurdle at Newbury on Saturday and recommends a bet.
"Both his bumper win and novice hurdle win came on testing ground (his bumper was in particularly gruelling conditions)..."
We are used to the Betfair Hurdle itself featuring some of the most progressive and up-and-coming hurdlers in training, but perhaps one of the most progressive around is instead part of the undercard to Saturday's feature handicap at Newbury.
That horse is Tobefair, who landed a six-timer when winning at Warwick in January. He is now a whopping 53 lb higher in the weights than when he started his winning streak in June 2016, and his trainer Debra Hamer deserves plenty of credit for his meteoric rise. Tobefair is not quite in Hunt Ball territory yet (he was raised 88 lb by the BHA during his remarkable 2011/12 season over fences) but he could get a bit closer with a seventh successive win on Sunday, and the way he won last time (idled when in command late on) will ensure he is competitive once again.
He is deservedly favourite, but this is a competitive affair, so it might be worth worth taking him on with something a little juicier in price.
Scotchtown was just behind the favourite at Warwick last time, and he too produced his best form to date as he stepped up in trip. He did well under the circumstances given that he was prominent throughout in a race that was run at a strong gallop, and the pair that he split were both held-up. That was Scotchtown's first start in handicaps and he is entitled to progress. He holds a realistic chance of turning the tables on Tobefair, and his yard - who have been winning plenty of Saturday handicaps in recent weeks - have won this race twice in the last four years.
Also worth a mention is Nordic Nymph, a likable mare who has won six of her last seven starts. She is sure to remain competitive, though the mares' handicap she won last time wasn't particularly strong and she is up 5 lb in the weights facing males again.
Super Sam came back from a big absence to land a couple of handicaps over two and a half miles in November, but he was seemingly well beaten at Haydock in December. He is worth another chance at three miles and is still lightly raced, but it is hard to know what to make of his effort in the fog last time.
Next in the early markets is Onefitzall, who possibly wasn't suited by the sharpness of Wincanton on his last start. His stamina got him out of trouble when he won over two and a half miles at Newbury prior to that, and though that race fell apart somewhat, his jumping was much better than it had been on his return at Carlisle in October. Both his bumper win and novice hurdle win came on testing ground (his bumper was in particularly gruelling conditions) and he could have more to offer as his stamina is drawn out over the furthest trip he will have faced.
Overall, the lightly-raced Scotchtown looks to have a sound chance of reversing Warwick form with the prolific Tobefair (provided he doesn't get into a scrap for the lead), but at a slightly bigger price it could be worth chancing Onefitzall, who shapes as if three miles on testing ground will be right up his street.
Back Onefitzall for the Betfair Cash Out Handicap Hurdle at Newbury on Saturday 11th