Timeform bring you their comprehensive runner-by-runner guide to the Betfair Hurdle on Sunday and pick out their 1-2-3...
"...very much one for the shortlist despite top weight..."
Timeform on Buzz
15:35 Newbury, Sunday
Live on ITV4
1. Buzz (Nicky Henderson/ Kevin Brogan (5))
Won his first two starts over hurdles at Taunton and Doncaster last term. Improved this season when a clear-cut winner of a handicap at Ascot before shaping well over the same C&D when a length and three-quarters second to Not So Sleepy in the Betfair Exchange Trophy, running on from off the pace. Very much one for the shortlist despite top weight.
2. Gumball (Philip Hobbs/ Ben Jones (3))
Better than ever over hurdles last season, winning a listed handicap at Ascot and finishing second in the Greatwood at Cheltenham. Won at the second attempt over fences at Uttoxeter in October but had no easy task when last of four to Shishkin in a Grade 2 novice at Kempton last time.
3. Wild Max (Paul Nicholls/ Angus Cheleda (7))
Won his first two starts over hurdles at Taunton last season and has improved in handicaps this term, winning his last two starts at Huntingdon and Doncaster. Travels strongly and looks the type to hold his own in a race like this.
4. Friend or Foe (Paul Nicholls/ Bryony Frost)
Improved this term after an absence and a wind operation. Well backed when easily winning a handicap at Wincanton in December and ran well off a 13 lb higher mark when second to Guard Your Dreams at Sandown last time.
5. Edwardstone (Alan King/ Tom Cannon)
Useful novice last season when winning his first two starts at Wincanton and Ascot. Often looked headstrong in the past but settled better back over hurdles last time (unseated on chasing debut) when winning a four-runner handicap at Market Rasen under hands and heels.
6. For Pleasure (Alex Hales/ Harry Bannister)
Headstrong front-runner who won four of his five starts between July and November last year, the first two of them handicaps. Produced his best effort when winning a Grade 2 novice at Cheltenham last time, building a long lead before beating Third Time Lucki by three and three-quarter lengths.
7. Fred (Nicky Henderson/ Daryl Jacob)
Improved to win novice hurdles at Kempton and Musselburgh on his last two starts last season. Better than the bare result on his chasing debut when fourth to Allmankind in a novice at Warwick in November but looks on a stiff mark for his handicap debut back over hurdles.
8. Thyme White (Paul Nicholls/ Harry Cobden)
Won a listed juvenile contest at Musselburgh last season and showed plenty of improvement when making a successful return in a four-year-old handicap at Chepstow in October. Hampered and unseated two out in the Gerry Feilden over C&D last time, and he remains open to improvement.
9. Highway One O Two (Chris Gordon/ Jamie Moore)
Useful last season when winning all three of his novice hurdles, two at Plumpton and the Dovecote at Kempton with Buzz only fourth. Has questions to answer now though after failing to complete on both starts over fences and running poorly back over hurdles last time.
10. Milkwood (Neil Mulholland/ Robbie Dunne)
Winning for the second time over hurdles when beating Ballinsker by four lengths in an intermediate event at Ffos Las in October. Has posted good efforts since in handicaps, and he would have gone closer still when third to Floressa in the Gerry Feilden over C&D in November had he not been badly hampered two out. Remains of plenty of interest.
11. Lightly Squeeze (Harry Fry/ Bryan Carver (3))
Held every chance when falling at the last in this race 12 months ago. Much his best effort this season when third to Not So Sleepy and Buzz in the Betfair Exchange Trophy at Ascot in December after a wind op. Below form over a longer trip at Ascot last time and the return to 2m will suit.
12. Mister Coffey (Nicky Henderson/ Nico de Boinville)
Beat Shakem Up'Arry on his hurdling/stable debut over this C&D last winter. Pulled hard next time and has worn a hood for both his starts in handicaps at Sandown this term, easily winning on the first occasion before finishing a respectable third to Benson on softer ground last time. Remains capable of better but might not want the ground to become too testing.
13. Cadzand (Dan Skelton/ Harry Skelton)
Winning pointer who won a novice at Warwick in November and followed up on his handicap debut at Kempton in December when beating Christopher Wood by three and a quarter lengths. Type to improve further but is bred to stay longer trips (all starts over hurdles on testing ground).
14. Shakem Up'Arry (Ben Pauling/ Paddy Brennan)
Second-season novice who landed the odds at Ffos Las on his reappearance. Shaped well when fourth on his handicap debut at Haydock next time and ran well when 12 lengths second to the impressive Metier in the Tolworth Novices' Hurdle at Sandown last time after making most.
15. Guard Your Dreams (Nigel Twiston-Davies/ Sam Twiston-Davies)
Has soon made into a useful hurdler this season, winning a maiden and novice at Bangor and then making a successful handicap debut at Sandown last month when beating Friend Or Foe by a length and three quarters. Seems sure to go well again.
16. Annual Invictus (Chris Gordon/ Richard Johnson)
A winning pointer who has been a progressive novice over hurdles this season, completing a hat-trick at Plumpton last month. Looked suited by the step up to 2½m when making all last time.
17. Galice Macalo (Mrs Jane Williams/ Chester Williams (5))
Made the running when winning novices at Warwick (mares) and Stratford in October. Ran well when a length and a half second to Benson in a listed handicap at Sandown next time but raced too freely in the Tolworth there last time.
18. Soaring Glory (Jonjo O'Neill/ Jonjo O'Neill jnr)
Won two of his three bumpers last season. Beat Bravemansgame on his hurdling debut at Chepstow in October and has been placed on both completed outings since, running creditably when six lengths third to My Drogo in the Kennel Gate Novices' Hurdle at Ascot last time. Bit more needed on his handicap debut.
19. Night Edition (David Pipe/ Tom Scudamore)
Won a maiden hurdle at Ludlow last season before being beaten a length by Aramax in the Fred Winter at the Cheltenham Festival. Probably needed the run when always behind in the Betfair Exchange Trophy at Ascot on his only outing since. Still very lightly raced over hurdles.
20. Mack The Man (Evan Williams/ Adam Wedge)
Won handicaps at Warwick and Sandown on his first two starts last season and looked sure to play a part in the finish when brought down at the final flight in this race last year. Tried over fences before winning a four-runner handicap back over hurdles at Wincanton last month.
21. Fifty Ball (Gary Moore/ Joshua Moore)
Well backed for his handicap debut when winning a conditionals' novice event at Ascot in October and was well on top when following up by 13 lengths in another novices' handicap at Sandown in December. Will progress further for a yard that has won this three times.
22. Glory And Fortune (Tom Lacey/ Jonathan Burke)
Won his first two starts, a listed bumper at Cheltenham and a novice hurdle at Huntingdon, and was beaten a neck by Buzz in a novice at Doncaster on his final start last season. Hasn't taken to fences this term and will have to be at the top of his game after a three-month break.
23. On To Victory (Alan King/ Tom Bellamy)
Smart on the Flat but hasn't made an entirely smooth transition to hurdles, failing to complete in three of his first five outings. Made hard work of narrowly landing the odds in a maiden at Wincanton last month and more is required on his handicap debut.
24. Ballinsker (Evan Williams/ Robbie Power)
Winning pointer who made a successful hurdling debut in a novice at Ludlow last season. No match for Milkwood at Ffos Las on his reappearance before finishing sixth in the Greatwood at Cheltenham off a stiff mark on his handicap debut. Tailed off in a jumpers' bumper last week.
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Timeform's analyst verdict:
Always one of the most competitive races of the season and this looks a particularly good renewal, featuring several unexposed sorts who could be ahead of the handicapper. Nicky Henderson has a very strong hand courtesy of Buzz and Mister Coffey, with the former taken to build on his Betfair Exchange Trophy second with crack claimer Kevin Brogan taking a handy 5 lb off. Fifty Ball looks next best.
2. Mister Coffey
3. Fifty Ball