Naas hosts the first Grade 1 of the year in the Lawlor's of Naas Novice Hurdle and Tony Keenan has found three horses to back on the card and gives an early non-runner, no-bet case for the Champion Hurdle...
"Urbanist looks to have improved plenty for the application of cheekpieces and gets an 11lbs weight pull with Cubomania for their run at Down Royal. That one has improved since but so has Urbanist and he was value for more than the six pounds hike he got for winning at Punchestown on New Year’s Eve."
The Sportsbook went non-runner, no-bet for the championship races (and the Ryanair) at Cheltenham during the week which obviously led to dramatic price cuts for horses with multiple targets. It can be difficult to find value bets in these circumstances but one angle is to look for a race where a change could cause a market shake-up, allowing that in most cases you are probably going to get your money back.
One doesn't have to look too far into the Champion Hurdle betting to think that a surprise runner or two could be parachuted in between now and March; the race has little depth outside Buveur D'Air with Melon about the second pick of the market. There's a distinct possibility that Faugheen won't run which could mean Limini is aimed at the race and the 20/1 each-way is a big price.
Everything would have go right for Limini to take part but that might be not a bad thing for a non-runner, no-bet play; if she is to run here, she will likely be about a 7/1 shot on the day and there is little chance pitches up as an outsider as connections would take another route should her preparation be less than ideal. It's worth remembering that she was trading in single figures for this race last year before Mullins took the Mares' Hurdle route.
Though beaten less than two lengths there, the result wasn't a true reflection of her ability as she was held up in a slowly-run race and got injured on the day. Her previous defeat of Apple's Jade at Punchestown is form that puts her in the mix (it was achieved in a notably fast time) especially as she would get an allowance. She is proven at the course and is likely to have the same light prep as previous years so the 20/1 looks value in a morass of unappealing non-runner, no-bet prices.
I won't pretend to know a lot about Demi Sang but he has been put in pretty short for this novice chase and is worth opposing for small stakes; unlike many of the French imports arriving at Closutton, he has not been given much time to settle in. Avenir D'Une may not be the one to take him with as he backs up quickly after a non-completion and his jumping hasn't been good thus far while Gwencily Berbas has long been inconsistent.
That leaves Stand Up And Fight who was close to the best of these over hurdles, putting up a good effort on the clock when second to Al Boum Photo at Fairyhouse last April in a race that has produced a number of good chasing prospects. He was well-backed on chase debut in November before being pulled up but he did lose a shoe that day and looks overpriced to get back on track now.
Next Destination will likely win this Grade 1 and win it well; in fact, I backed him for the Ballymore Novice Hurdle yesterday with double-figures looking appealing. Speak Easy is the second choice of the market after an impressive maiden hurdle win and shapes like a horse that will get this trip; still, this is only his second run under rules and he has to improve massively.
The likes of Cracking Smart and Blow By Blow look in need of further and are very much stable second strings with Samcro ruled out during the week but Moyross is one that looks overpriced to hit the frame. He could also be viewed as a stayer but that might be a mistake as he showed gears to win at Cork last time and seems much improved for going hurdling this season. While lacking the high-profile of some of the field, he shouldn't be the outsider of them all and is a good bet to place.
Though 12 go to post here, this can be quickly whittled down to a few key players with Cubomania, Brosna George and Urbanist standing out and it looks a good race for an each-way bet with plenty coming here out of form. Pace could be a key concern as there simply isn't any and Urbanist might be advantaged by that as his two main rivals are hold-up types in need of a decent gallop.
He looks to have improved plenty for the application of cheekpieces and gets an 11lbs weight pull with Cubomania for their run at Down Royal. That one has improved since but so has Urbanist and he was value for more than the six pounds hike he got for winning at Punchestown on New Year's Eve.