Betfair Hurdle: Filey Bay favourite for Newbury
Trained by Emmet Mullins, the seven-year-old was having his first outing in 409 days when an easy winner at Doncaster in November off a lowly mark and had no trouble in following up a week later at Wincanton.
Subsequently bought by JP McManus, he will be attempting to become the first Irish-trained winner of the race since Michael O’Brien’s Essex in 2005.
The son of Fame And Glory must contend with a rise in both the weights and class, but it would be no surprise to see him take his game to another level.
“Fingers crossed, he will hopefully be up for the challenge,” said Mullins. “It’s a big step up in class for him, but he’s come through his first two tests well and hopefully he can keep progressing.
“Since Wincanton this has been the plan and it is a big step up in class. But it’s also a big pot and he deserves to take his chance.”
Coral’s David Stevens said: “As usual we’re giving plenty of respect to an Emmet Mullins-trained handicap contender, particularly one who runs in the famous JP McManus silks and has won his last two starts with the minimum of fuss.”
The final declarations are in for Europe’s richest handicap hurdle race 🏇
18 horses go head to head this weekend on @Betfair Super Saturday for the Betfair Hurdle Race.
Only 2 days left to find out who will be crowned this years winner! 🏆 pic.twitter.com/VIRVgdOdas
— Newbury Racecourse (@NewburyRacing) February 9, 2023
Filey Bay is one of three runners in the race for McManus, with the Willie Mullins-trained Icare Allen and Nicky Henderson’s No Ordinary Joe also among the leading fancies.
Icare Allen finished fourth in last year’s Triumph Hurdle and ran with credit when third on his seasonal reappearance at Fairyhouse, while No Ordinary Joe won a head-bobber at Kempton over Christmas.
McManus’ racing manager, Frank Berry, said: “It’s hard to split them. I wouldn’t want to have to make the decision about which one to ride, I know that.
“They are all going there in good form and while it’s a competitive race, all their trainers have said they are in good form, so hopefully they’ll be competitive.”
Last seen when fourth to My Drogo in the Kennel Gate and sent off 1/5 here, No Ordinary Joe barely breaks a sweat to win at @Southwell_Races for @sevenbarrows and @NdeBoinville… pic.twitter.com/t00Rqfl35y
— At The Races (@AtTheRaces) May 4, 2021
Gary Moore has two runners in Teddy Blue and Yorksea for a race he has won three times in the past while last year’s winner Glory And Fortune goes again.
Chris Gordon is excited to be firing a twin assault at one of the most prestigious handicap hurdles of the season, with Aucunrisque and Highway One O Two both expected to acquit themselves well.
Aucunrisque reverts to the smaller obstacles after finishing second in the Wayward Lad Novices’ Chase on his latest appearance and given he is 7lb lower over hurdles, Gordon is hoping for a bold showing.
He said: “He’s in really good order, really good form with himself. I got him back over a hurdle the other day and he was very sharp and straight back into the swing of it.
“What’s interesting when you look at his profile is ever since I ran him in his very first bumper, he has improved a little bit on the back of each run. It’s wonderful when you have a horse that just keeps on improving and hopefully it will be a really good day if we can improve just a little bit more.”
Highway One O Two proved too strong for the reopposing Hacker Des Places in a competitive handicap at Ascot in October before placing a distant third behind the brilliant Constitution Hill in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton on Boxing Day.
“I can’t understand why Hacker Des Places is such a short price and we keep drifting out, but he hacked up that day and won it very nicely,” Gordon added.
“People are maybe looking and seeing that he was only third to Constitution Hill, but I was really pleased with that run. When you look at Epatante, she was six lengths in front of us and if you look at the video, Jamie (Moore) wouldn’t have hit our horse once behind the saddle. He looked after him and I thought that run was a lifetime best.
“Off his mark we’ve got to have a lifetime best again to win the Betfair, but I’m really happy with him. I ride Highway every day and he seems in such tremendous form.
“I’m really looking forward to running both of them and it’s just lovely to have such horses in such good races.”
The Going ahead of Betfair Super Saturday is;
Going Stick unavailable due to frost covers.
The course was covered with frost sheets on Sunday.
Covers will be lifted today when the temp becomes positive.
Friday max temp is 7/8C. Min temp overnight into Saturday is 4/5C. pic.twitter.com/WFce0rwDBR
— Newbury Racecourse (@NewburyRacing) February 10, 2023
Hacker Des Places has won at Cheltenham since chasing home Highway One O Two in the autumn and lines up as one of two runners for Paul Nicholls along with Rubaud, who makes his handicap debut after two Taunton wins and a second place at Kempton so far this term.
“We’ve Hacker Des Places who won at Cheltenham recently and won at Aintree in the spring. I ran him at Cheltenham the other day to get a prep in for this race but he won,” Nicholls said.
“He picked up a 5lb penalty, but Angus (Cheleda) takes 5lb off. He’s a competitive horse.
“The other lad, Rubaud, is a novice rated 130 and I think that’s quite a nice mark for him. He was second to Rare Edition at Kempton over Christmas but I felt the ground was too soft for him.
“Obviously by then we didn’t have too much choice. We’ve waited for this race for the better ground, novices have a good record in the race, so I’m hoping he’s going to be competitive.”
Betfair Hurdle odds
7/2 Filey Bay
9/1 Icare Allen, Master Chewy
10/1 Hacker Des Places
12/1 Monviel, No Ordinary Joe, Yorksea
14/1 Teddy Blue
16/1 Aucunrisque, Glory And Fortune, Faivoir
All odds and market correct at date of publication