The Dark Horse looks at the Betfred January Novice's Hurdle and he is taking on the favourite Sugar Baron with the Gary Moore trained Ar Mad.
This race looks below the standard of a typical Newbury novice hurdle in terms of depth of quality and it is a horse that has not been seen on the racecourse on these shores that appeals from a betting point of view.
That horse is the Gary Moore trained Ar Mad, formerly trained in France by Gaetan Taupin. The son of Graded hurdle winner Tiger Groom started his career in an AQPS flat race for 4yo and 5yo on the artificial surface at Pornichet. He managed to hold a prominent position throughout despite frequently showing signs of greenness before being outpaced turning in. He stayed on again to finish a very close 4th in what was a fairly promising debut.
He was beaten into 10th in an AQPS flat race at Longchamp next time but that was a good race and despite finishing 10th, he was only beaten 4½ lengths and that was after being eased in the closing stages.
Ar Mad’s hurdling debut came at Nantes over 2m1½f on soft ground. Having initially been held up, he was in front by the second hurdle and maintained a prominent position on the outside of the field for much of the race. He was still in a share of the lead at 3 out but as the pace quickened, Vincent Roisnard didn’t ask him for any effort. Just over 2 lengths down at 2 out, Roisnard still didn’t move on him and he gradually dropped back from a group of 3 that looked to have the race between them jumping the last. Ar Mad was about 8 lengths down jumping the last and Roisnard eventually asked for some effort, just pushing him out, which resulted in Ar Mad running on strongly to be beaten 4 lengths into 3rd. The form of this race has worked out well, with the runner up winning both starts over fences since and has been sold for €220,000, and the 4th won her only start since over hurdles by 15 lengths. The 6th horse finished just over 20 lengths behind Ar Mad and he has also managed to win over fences since.
The video of that race can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vg-5b5L8Fbo
(Ar Mad is in the red and white checks)
That was clearly a promising effort and he was since bought privately. Although untested on heavy ground I think he should handle it and the run at Nantes suggests that the slight step up in trip will suit him.
The dangers are headed by Sugar Baron who is currently the 4-5 favourite. He created a good impression when winning on debut in a bumper at Ascot and there’s no reason to think he won’t go on over hurdles but the 3rd and 4th from that race have both since been beaten over 10 lengths at Chepstow.
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