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|Day 3 TipsTips for Thursday 18th March||Day 4 TipsTips for Friday 19th March|
The flying horse making late headway in any race is always the one that most people pick up on as one to note next time out, and often becomes vastly overbet as a result. Quite regularly, these are exactly the type of horse to steer clear of, usually as the appearance of their finishing effort is flattered by careering past tiring rivals.
But when you see a horse make up late ground in two of the most competitive handicap hurdles of the season, against quite notable pace/positioning biases on both occasions, then you know you can scrap the notion that said horse was flattered.
Dr Richard Newland’s progressive handicap hurdler Benson is the horse in question, and having had a good ponder about where and when he might, and indeed should, run next and/or at the Cheltenham Festival, and I have come down on backing him at 16/1 each-way with Paddy Power or Betfair Sportsbook in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle, on the Friday of the Festival.
According to a recent stable tour with the trainer, it seems he is due to be stepped up in trip from the 2m he has been racing over, and may appear at Ascot over about 2m4f in late February. This will act as a fair indicator of the race that he may run in at the Festival, if indeed he is to run there.
The great aspect to backing Benson at 16/1 each-way now with Paddy Power or Betfair is that both of these firms are offering non-runner, no bet (NRNB), and are also offering five places already for each-way bets.
The NRNB concession is key here, as I would only be 50/60% sure that he may run in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle. However, I do feel it is the race he probably should run in, as it not only represents a step up in trip, but also the New Course over which it is run over, allows horses to habitually come from off the pace over hurdles, owing to the stiff and galloping nature, particularly in the closing stages.
The County Hurdle is run over 2m on the New Course on Friday also, but is often a very classy affair, and given Benson’s habit of getting slightly further back than ideal could see him have too much to do in that race.
The Coral Cup would obviously represent a decent opportunity too, as it is run over 2m4½f (the same distance as the Martin Pipe), but crucially the Coral Cup is always contested by classier, more experienced sorts, and also run on the more speed-favouring Old Course.
Watch back both of Benson’s last two runs, and it is clear that given the right set of circumstances, that he can win a big-field handicap. He made up impressive late ground on very soft terrain at Sandown to win on penultimate start, and then in a race run at a hugely inconveniencing tempo for a hold-up performer at Ascot last time, he again was the only one to close (rapidly!) from the rear.
Stepping up in trip on a course that will suit his style, with perhaps a pair of cheekpieces on, and Benson can prove to be very well handicapped, and must be backed with Paddy Power or Betfair at 16/1 each-way for the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockey’s Handicap Hurdle. This is a race that has a ceiling rating of 145, making it the least classy of all the handicap hurdles at the Cheltenham Festival.