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Horse Racing

Scottish Champion Hurdle 2022

Saturday 2nd April 14:25

Will Smith previews the 2022 Scottish Champion Hurdle at Ayr on Saturday and shares a 8/1 Each Way selection for the race.

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Bookie Selection Best Odds Market Bet
Anna Bunina 8/18/1 Ante Post
E/W (3 places 1/4)
Scottish Champion Hurdle
Will Smith
Place BetPlace Bet

Date of Tips: 29/03/2022

Disclaimer The odds for these selections were correct at the time of publishing (11:33 29/03/2022) but may have changed since. Please check the latest price before placing your bet.

Afterthoughts are a dangerous conveyance – sometimes they can work out much better than you anticipated, but for the most part the inevitability of what you feared may happen is substantiated by the outcome.

Given we are entering a stage of the jumps season whereby the Trainers’ Championship is still very much up for grabs, with four legitimate potential winners, it may well be that we see plenty of horses campaigned more liberally, and as such entering into the dreaded afterthought category.

Two of the market leaders for this Saturday’s Coral Scottish Champion Hurdle at 2.25 at Ayr fall firmly into that bracket, as they were aimed at the County Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. Given the quirk in the racing calendar this year, Ayr’s Scottish Grand National meeting falls only two weeks after the Cheltenham Festival.

West Cork and First Street are both trained by Trainer’s Championship contenders Dan Skelton and Nicky Henderson, and if they were to take in Saturday’s big race, it could be a case of going back to the well a little soon, after both put in commendable efforts in the County Hurdle.

Last year’s winner Milkwood hasn’t had as smooth a preparation as last season, when he came into the race off the back of a good run in last season’s County Hurdle. Given these three horses are all a best priced 7/1 or lower, the Scottish Champion Hurdle at 2.25 at Ayr on Saturday appealed as one to look at from an ante-post perspective.

Onemorefortheroad is on the shortlist, as it looks like he has been aimed at the race, and ran well to a point in the Imperial Cup, but I just wonder whether he has much more improvement in him. So, for a selection, I was drawn immediately to John McConnell’s Anna Bunina.

Last year’s runner-up Anna Bunina is available at 8/1 each-way with William Hill, Bet365 and Coral, and while it is only for 3 places each-way, and Sky Bet are offering 6/1 4 places, I would be quite strongly tempted by the 8/1 price tag.

Sent off at 8/1 last year, she sauntered into the race looking all over the winner at the second last, but if you panned back in the field a little, you would have seen a similarly tanking Milkwood, and ultimately, she was well beaten by him.

But as mentioned above, her conqueror last year perhaps doesn’t enter the fray this time around in quite the same form, whereas Anna Bunina has the look of a horse who has long been aimed at going one better in the Coral Scottish Champion Hurdle.

We saw at the Cheltenham Festival just how adept John McConnell is with his runners at big meetings, and doesn’t waste ammunition unnecessarily. She has a few lengths to find with Scottish County Hurdle winner Socialist Agenda, but the way she was ridden in that race at Musselburgh suggested that it may have been something of a prep run for this.

While I wouldn’t be the biggest advocate of handicap marks being a good guide, she has been granted a large amount of leniency by the UK handicapper. Anna Bunina races off a 5lb lower mark than when second in last year’s race, where as Milkwood is 8lbs higher, First Street 5lbs higher than when a brilliant second in the County Hurdle, Nells Son is a whopping 13lb higher than when winning Kelso’s Premier Novice Hurdle, while Socialist Agenda could be (if top weight Milkwood runs) 8lbs higher than when winning at Musselburgh. All that surely won’t harm her chance.

Anna Bunina’s run at Musselburgh strongly suggested to me that she was in as good a form coming into this race as last season, and with the weather having come right, and being kept fresh for this assignment by her shrewd handler John McConnell, she has the look of a decent each-way bet at 8/1 with William Hill, Bet365 or Coral.

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