Scottish Champion Hurdle 2018 Preview

Ceebee previews the Scottish Champion Hurdle and he has bets including Verdana Blue and Flying Tiger.

Scottish Champion (Hcap) Hurdle

Ayr Sat 21st – 2miles

There’s only 21 entries for this race next Saturday, 1 of which is nearly two stone out of the handicap, 2 of whom ran last week and another 1 trained by G Elliott who’ll run in Punchestown himself if it meant winning some Irish trainers prizemoney. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we don’t get 16 runners on the day so whilst the ¼ odds 4 places is available I’m going to get involved in the risky ante-post market. Here’s a little bit on most of them and selections at the bottom.

Chesterfield – Obvious chance as winner last year and solid 4th in County hurdle last time. His win last year was in a race run to suit; it turned into a bit of a sprint and he’s a former decent flat horse. On a workable mark but not exactly chucked in. Short enough price already for an 8yr old who had a hard race last time.

Whatswrongwithyou – Did have traffic problems in the Imperial Cup but still had lots of time and room if good enough on the run in. Was well beaten 9L in the end and I’m not sure the form will amount to much either; winner beaten at Plumpton a few weeks back.

Beyond the Clouds - Is 3 from 3 in novice hurdles but has a mark higher than Kalashnikov raced off in the Betfair Hurdle. A tough ask for a novice to step into this race from a 5 runner Musselburgh novice hurdle.

A Hare Breath – Not good enough in the County and unlikely to improve past some of these unexposed sorts nowadays.

Claimantakinforgan – Is in need of a step up in trip not 2miles at a fast, flat track on decent ground. When it quickens, like it did in the Supreme, he’ll be left behind.

Ch’Tibello – Was a massive 19lbs lower when winning this in ’16. On his very best he’s not drastically handicapped but after a busy season, and average enough last time, it’s hard to fancy him.

Silver Concorde and Midnight Shadow must be deemed unlikely after racing at Aintree last week.

Brelade – Hasn’t won in a good while (10 starts) and is starting to look rather disappointing having recently lost at Cork.

Irish Roe – Is hard to fancy for a very small operation off the back of a miserable effort. Handicapper may have her now off 140.

The Unit – Comes back from novice chasing but is hard to fancy due to the below-average form of the King yard. I never like horses reverting to hurdles over shorter distances (it may be bogus but not for me)

Charli Parcs – Hasn’t really been given much of a chance by the handicapper despite having a bad season. His sole good effort hasn’t really worked out as strong form either.

Act of Valour – I wouldn’t be a big fan of 4yr olds in this sort of company. His form in small fields is ok but his Fred Winter effort leaves him with plenty to find.

Last time out winners, Attest (not seen in 3mts) and I’m A Game Changer (won a very weak race), do both make some appeal but neither make the shortlist of three.

Flying Tiger – Was a strong fancy of mine, and many others, for the County hurdle. He ultimately disappointed badly but I think it can be forgiven. He was very free early burning too much energy, lacking fluency over his jumps, racing too far off the pace behind a lot of traffic and often on the worst of the ground. It just all went wrong. His close up 4th in the Kingwell Hurdle is more like the effort of a 150 horse than a 140 rated animal. Same goes for the Fighting Fifth effort (3rd). Maybe I’m reading too much into those efforts but I believe he’s well handicapped.

Flashing Glance – A 5yo novice who has winning handicap experience. A lovely blend of unexposed improver and having the required experience. He won his last start after a 5mt break following wind surgery. To do so, whilst jumping marginally left at Ludlow, was impressive. The style of his victory, making all with a high head carriage – I wouldn’t be surprised if he had loads in the tank. And maybe he’ll come on for it also. His previous effort to that was a fine 3rd in Chepstow where the winner that day ran 2nd in the Ladbroke next time out. Having won on GS the likely ground at Ayr should be ideal. The Tom Lacey yard are also on fire with 4 winners and 4 places from the last 10 runners. So much to like…

Verdana Blue – Travelled powerfully in the Betfair Hurdle but didn’t see out the trip on awful ground. It was still a solid effort. This will be far easier to see out on better ground and a less demanding track. Prior to Newbury she was 3rd in the Ladbroke and 5th behind future Greatwood winner Elgin at Ascot (form of that race has really worked out well). Running well in all the right races throughout the year and now this test should really suit. She is also fresher than most having skipped the other spring festivals - she could be in a line for a big payday.

Advised Bets:

1pt e/w Verdana Blueat at 8/1 with Paddy Power (1/4 odds - 4 places)

0.75pt e/w Flashing Glance at 16/1 with Bet365 (1/4 odds - 4 places)

0.5pt win Flying Tiger at 10/1 with Paddy Power (1/4 odds - 4 places)