EBF Novices' Handicap Hurdle Final - Sandown Park
The eve of the 2020 Cheltenham Festival, rightly the focus is on the four days next week at Prestbury Park. Ahead of that, Sandown serves up a fantastic warm-up card on Saturday with the Imperial Cup Meeting.
As a betting card, the Imperial Cup meeting usually offers up some decent opportunities. The EBF Final is my favourite jumps race in the calendar, that may seem an odd nomination with the luxuries that the following week offers?
It is born out of past glories – no guarantee of future success (I know) but, I approach it with a full stride each year, win or lose.
“Sandown Park” flickr photo by Carine06 https://flickr.com/photos/43555660@N00/13912741649 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license
EBF Novices’ Hurdle Final
My favourite NH race of the year!!
The handicapper has a tough job allotting handicap marks to improving and relatively lightly raced horses and inevitably makes a few errors that are there to be exploited by connections and punters alike.
McFabulous - poor value favourite?
An initial glance at the entries before the final declaration suggests this year is no different. First off, I am very much against the ante-post favourite McFabulous who I view as representing poor value.
Great name, poor value?
At the current 5/2, in my opinion, he is an awful price in a very competitive race.
I see some are waving slips around with 6/1 from when the market first opened. I’m not sure there was any value in that price either?
Yes, he is a promising horse, particularly on his bumper exploits last season. His win in a slowly run 4-runner Market Rasen novice hurdle seems to be exciting some. I have him achieving more on his previous run at Ascot when well beaten by the decent Master Debonair.
On the Ascot form, he needs to improve to be involved here. He can, but equally, it can be said that there will be a decent number in this line up who we have to see the best of yet.
The good news, finding a favourite you believe to represent poor value, means there is value elsewhere in the field.
3 Horses against the EBF Novices' favourite
I make Falco Blitz my tissue price favourite at 6/1.
He won an Ascot EBF Novices’ qualifier last time out which told us nothing more than we could already measure about his ability. The clue to his chance lies in his 4th at Cheltenham two outings ago. A strong handicap on the clock, the strength of the form has been promoted by several of the runners subsequent exploits.
Falco Blitz runs 4th at Cheltenham
Celebrations from @PaddyBrennan81 at the line!— Racing TV (@RacingTV) December 13, 2019
Goodbye Dancer lands a big prize on stable debut for @FOBRacing in an exciting finale at @CheltenhamRaces pic.twitter.com/avmXUAzau6
Nothing too complicated about spotting Falco Blitz’s chance in the EBF final. More it is about price, taking a view about the position of Mcfabulous at the head of the market creates potential value opportunities elsewhere.
Bit’s of 12/1 available, I make Falco Blitz a bet at that price.
Up The Straight
Next on my radar is Up the Straight who I have as a 14/1 shot on my tissue prices.
As I write, Up The Straight is available at 33/1 in places.
He has run three times this season and looks on a decent mark based on his debut run at Lingfield where he comfortably took down Cat Tiger.
Cat Tiger has promoted the worth of the Lingfield race with two subsequent decent wins.
Up The Straight winning at Lingfield and behind Shishkin at Huntingdon
Quite the upset - UP THE STRAIGHT (33/1) hacks up under James Davies to give @rowe_racing a first winner since the very same meeting 12 months ago! 🏇— Timeform Live (@TimeformLive) November 12, 2019
Cat Tiger, the 1/3 favourite, could only finish back in second.
“You would like to think Shishkin would be one of our best chances." - Nicky Henderson believes he has a good chance of getting this year's Cheltenham Festival off to the perfect start >>>https://t.co/E2ySo40yRB pic.twitter.com/BRzPwaqC70— Racing TV (@RacingTV) February 17, 2020
You have to forgive Up The Straight his next run here at Sandown where for whatever reason he ran below form. I don’t know if an excuse was offered up for this run? But I am always happy to excuse one bad run if the price compensates.
On his latest run, he came up against Shishkin at Huntingdon. Shishkin is a horse of considerable potential and the current favourite for the opening race at the Cheltenham Festival. I would be pretty sure that Up The Straight had little chance of defeating Shishkin at Huntingdon though he ran perfectly respectably in a race run at a crawl till 5 furlongs out.
His debut run at Lingfield represents a test more akin to what he can expect at Sandown on potentially very soft ground. When he won at Lingfield, it was 2 mile 4 furlongs and heavy ground so he should be fine under Saturday’s race conditions.
At 33/1 he’s just the wrong price.
Oliver Sherwood’s Sevarano is a little more exposed than most in this line up with eight runs over hurdles to date. He has plenty of form in the book but, there is a case to make that he is still progressing.
His latest effort, 2nd to Le Macon Lugnatic at Doncaster points to his chance here. I have him as a similar chance as Up The Straight and 14/1 on the tissue prices.
Pieces of 20/1 are available, so while less value than Up The Straight, still of some interest at this stage.
EBF Novices' Hurdle Final Declarations
The risk with betting at this stage is not knowing if your selection is going to be a declared runner!
Final declarations for the race are on Friday morning, hopefully all fancies are confirmed as runners. The participation of Mcfabuluos too, which is key to the betting shape of the race.
The risk of waiting for a guaranteed run is the price collapsing and no longer being value! Oh, and the meeting needs to pass an inspection too!! That’s the perils and joy of betting ante-post.