Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle Series Qualifier
The Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle Series Qualifier at Warwick is arguably the most interesting betting heat on an average Saturday card.
A popular theme on Twitter this week has been – “What is the most influential variable for determining the outcome of a race?”
The Pertemps Series Qualifiers are a unique series of races where the qualifying conditions of the race can be most influential on the outcome.
Longer-term targets and intent can be key and it can pay to take a different approach than you would with a more typical Saturday handicap hurdle in searching for the most likely winner.
How does a horse qualify for the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham?
The final of the Pertemps Series is run the Thursday of the Cheltenham Festival.
To qualify, a horse needs to have finished in the first six placings in one of the qualifying races. There are 14 qualifiers run across England, Scotland and Wales in the 2020/21 National Hunt season as well as qualifiers in Ireland and France.
It is fair to say that some runners in the Pertemps Qualifier at Warwick on Saturday will be being primed to be at their peak come Cheltenham in March. They don’t need to win at Warwick, just be in the first six to qualify for the final in March.
Warwick Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle Qualifier
Analysing the Warwick runners in an orthodox approach, I’d confidently say Imperial Alcazar has recorded the best past racecourse performance when a second (or was it first) in the Protektorat Cheltenham race.
That was 381 days ago, I’m taking a view on how primed he will be for the Warwick race? It comes down to price and at 5/1 I can pass him over. A top-six finish and he’d be of interest off his current mark of 139 when Cheltenham comes around in March!
Kepage is another who is on a winnable handicap mark, similar comments apply to him other than he comes here on the back of a racecourse best on his latest run. Lightly raced and with the promise of more to come he appeals more than Imperial Alcazar at the current best price of 8/1.
Intent & Target Races
Of the 13 declared runners for the Warwick race, two horses, Espion and Flemcara have already run in and been placed in the first six in previous Pertemps qualifying races.
They are not running at Warwick to qualify, its a fair assumption that they are running because connections believe they have a good chance of winning and picking up a portion of the £16k pot.
On past and recent efforts there is little between the pair.
Espion is relatively lightly raced having had just 6 runs. He has the profile of a horse who may go on to prove better than he’s already shown, the conditions of the Warwick race will suit and his chance looks undervalued by the market at a current 10/1 (as always bigger on the Exchanges).
We know a lot more about Flemcara and the level of his ability. Come the Cheltenham Final there is likely to be a whole host of lightly raced and better-handicapped horses than Flemcara. The Warwick race is probably Flemcara’s chance of picking up a second decent win of the season.
Flemcara comes here on the back of a performance at the top end of his ability, winning a 6 runner Doncaster handicap last time and in doing so recording a solid time. He comes here in peak form, his optimum performances have been recorded on heavy ground which he seems sure to encounter tomorrow. There’s a slight question mark against the form of the Emma Lavelle stable but even taking this into account he appeals at the current 10/1 (14.5 Exchange price).
Value Elsewhere At Warwick
Will Sting is the wrong price at 7/1 in the first race. It would be no surprise to see him shorten considerably from his current price and is a bet for me at prices above 3/1.
2:25 Warwick Ballymore Leamington Novices’ Hurdle is a difficult race to price up, for both odds compilers and backers. Nine of the twelve runners were winners on their last run, any number of these could be considerably better than they’ve shown to date.
Oscar Elite I thought would be favourite, in the opening shows he’s not, although he is towards the head of the market. The hope had been his latest win in a 3 runner race (fast time recorded) would be overlooked because of the lack of runners and competitiveness.
Oscar Elite’s price looks about right so I’m happy to look elsewhere for some value.
Of interest are Mint Condition 15.0, Sending Love 20.0 & Midnight River 12.0, the trio appear overpriced in the opening exchanges.
Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle Series Qualifiers 2020/21