- The Betfair Hurdle is a Grade 3 handicap race covering a distance of 2m 69y. It is the fifth event on the Newbury racecard this Saturday, with a scheduled start time of 15:35. Sutton Place is the clear favourite at the time of writing, which isn’t surprising given the fact that the six-year-old has won four races from five and placed third in the other. His most recent win was achieved on 28th January, when he beat five other runners to win the Grade 3 Limestone Lad Hurdle at Naas.
- Ballyandy has won four from nine races, his latest success being achieved in March 2016. However, he isn’t in poor form, and will come here on the back of a second place finish in a Grade 2 Novices’ Hurdle on 2nd December. Consul De Thaix has had just four races and has yet to win, but has been placed three times. His most recent outing was on 17th December, when he finished second in a field of 19 in the Grade 3 Wessex Youth Trust Handicap Hurdle at Ascot. Movewiththetimes has won three from four races, and was a last time out winner in an 18-runner Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle at Wincanton on 13th December.
- The Irish Gold Cup is the fourth event on the Leopardstown racecard this Sunday, and the Grade 1 race will get underway at 14:45. Don Poll is the favourite, and has notched up eight wins from 16 races, with six additional placed finishes. His last race was on 28th December, when he finished second in a field of 13 in the Grade 1 Lexus Chase, but one has to look back to December 2015 for his most recent win, which was in the same race.
- Empire of Dirt has won six from 22 races, including each of his last three, the most recent being the Grade 1 Ladbrokes Troytown Handicap Chase, on 27th November. Carlingford Lough has won ten races from 30, and won the Irish Gold Cup in both 2015 and 2016, so he will be seeking his hat trick here. He finished fourth of six in his last race on 21st January, but that was his first outing since 27th April, when he won the Grade 1 Bibby Financial Services Ireland Punchestown Gold Cup. Minella Rocco has won three of nine races, but failed to finish his most recent event on 3rd December at Aintree, falling at the final fence – an incident which led to him missing the Welsh Grand National.
Once again, the races highlighted here are very competitive, so we would be naïve to think that picking the winner in either should be a simple matter of following the money. In the Betfair Hurdle, Sutton Place is a very worthy favourite, but we quite like the look of Consul De Thaix, who has yet to win but gives the impression that it’s only a matter of time, and is currently priced to be a very appealing each-way prospect.
In the Irish Grand National, the runner that appeals the most to us is Carlingford Lough, who has won the event in each of the last two years and could well be poised to notch up a third success. Currently priced at 9/2, he could also be well worth backing each-way.
Torn between the two options, we are tempted to speculate with an each-way double on both Consul De Thaix and Carlingford Lough, but we will restrict ourselves to the latter selection, whose previous winning form in the Irish Gold Cup speaks volumes.
- Sports.net’s top tip: Carlingford Lough each-way in the Irish Gold Cup – 9/2
*Please note that odds will fluctuate as the race approaches.