Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle Betting Tips & Predictions – Cheltenham, Thursday 14th March 2019

To stand a chance of featuring in this race, runners needed to have finished in the top six in any of the qualifying races that were held earlier in the season. It’s a rather unique event in this aspect but it’s something which means this race consistently has a jam-packed field.

There are plenty in with claims here, ranging from quality performers dropping in class to those rising through the ranks. Dan Skelton is a trainer to be feared in these handicaps, and having landed the County Hurdle in 2016, we fancy him to strike on the big stage again this year.

Top Tips

Notwhatiam each way @ 12/1

Odds correct at time of writing but may have changed since. Check site for latest prices.

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Race Info

At almost three miles long, the hurdlers involved in this race will be in for a stern test of their stamina with conditions underfoot very testing on Cheltenham’s New Course. There are two horses, Mormon and Minella Warrior, waiting in reserve but they will only feature if we have some late dropouts from the race.

GoingDistanceGradePrize MoneyRunnersEW Terms
Soft 3m Grade 1 £100,000 24 Runners 1/4 1-4

Recent Winners

Davy Russell has incredibly landed the last three editions of this race, which makes it all the more surprising that no one has called upon his services this year. Will his absence prevent the Irish from making it four wins on the spin?

This race has favoured the youngsters in recent times, with five of the six most recent editions falling to a five or six year old.

YearWinnerSPTrainerJockey
2018 Delta Work 6/1 Gordon Elliott Davy Russell
2017 Presenting Percy 11/1 Pat Kelly Davy Russell
2016 Mall Dini 14/1 Pat Kelly Davy Russell
2015 Call The Cops 9/1 Nicky Henderson Andrew Tinkler
2014 Fingal Bay 9/2 Philip Hobbs Richard Johnson

Analysis: Not To Land Handicap Plot

The trick to winning this race is developing a runner to a level where they can qualify, whilst leaving enough room for improvement to still leave them potentially well handicapped on the day. Whoever best achieves that fine balancing act may well come out on top.

Sam A Shu In?

Many of those towards the head of the market are a little older than the recent winners here, but one who does fit the profile nicely is the Philip Hobbs-trained Samburu Shujaa. By a sire in Poliglote whose runners tend to perform well here, this one arrives right at the top of his game following back to back successes at Chepstow. He’s up another 7lbs for the latest of those wins, which takes him up to a career high of 136 but, still only six years old, he may well still be improving. Expect this one to be right up with the pace and make a bold bid from the front end.

Phil Your Boots With Elliott Runner?

A Gordon Elliott-trained runner carried the Gigginstown House Stud silks to victory in this race last year, and we wouldn’t be at all surprised should we be in for a repeat this time around. Going in the JP McMAnus silks, it is the Elliott runner, Sire Du Berlais who heads the betting, but at more than double his price we like the claims of stablemate, A Toi Phil.

Nine years old now, this horse has kept some top company throughout his career, and whilst we now know he isn’t quite Grade 1 class, he is a multiple scorer in Grade 2 company. Considering this is a Grade 3 handicap, a mark of 146 should put him firmly in the mix. A staying on fourth in his qualifier, he looks primed to go well.

I Am A Winner?

Dan Skelton is a man who knows what it takes to land a handicap plot at the Cheltenham Festival and we fancy he may well have another one lined up here in the form of his nine-year old Notwhatiam. This one possesses plenty of experience which will stand him in good stead and appears to have made rapid strides since joining his current yard in October.

Rocketing from a rating of 122 to 135 in the space of just four runs for Skelton, his effort when fourth in his qualifier last time out was ideal, in that it allowed him to qualify for the race without being raised by the handicapper. Kept off the track since that January effort, he looks to have been laid out for this.

Final Verdict: Notwhatiam each way

There’s a case to made to be made for plenty of these. Samburu Shujaa looks the form horse coming into the race, whilst the likes of Champers On Ice and Coole Cody have good course form to their name. A Toi Phil meanwhile is greatly feared for the Elliott yard having run such an eye-catching race last time out.

The one for us though is Notwhatiam, who seems to be loving life at the Skelton yard. Only put into the race late at Warwick last time out, he gave the firm impression that he was holding a little back that day and can at least make the frame.

About the Pertemps Final Hurdle: Hugely Competitive Stayers Handicap

Cheltenham Racecourse Viewed from Grandstand
Andy Loos, flickr

The organisers of the Cheltenham Festival understandably make a big deal of the fact that there are 14 Grade 1 races taking place across the four days of action. Race goers love the chance to see the very best horses across the various divisions compete against one another but punters always enjoy getting their teeth stuck into a competitive betting heat and in that regard there is nothing quite like a handicap.

The Pertemps Final Hurdle is one such race that always provides plenty of opportunity for punters. Not only is this three mile contest a handicap but it is one that all the competitors must qualify for earlier on in the National Hunt season.

There are 16 different opportunities for connections to get their horses into the Pertemps Final Hurdle and have a crack at a winner’s prize that reached £57,000 in 2018. These are held at various courses in Britain and Ireland and horses must finish in the top six in at least one of them to have a chance of a place amongst the big field of the series final.

Never Easy To Unravel

You might think that the presence of such a structured route to the Pertemps Final Hurdle would mean that predicting the winner is relatively easy. That is not the case. Horses who go off at odds of 20/1 or longer regularly claim places whilst winners at double figures are commonplace and winning favourites rare.

When picking through the form to try and pull out a potential winner the qualifying places do seem to be the most obvious place to start. Punters will certainly get some important insights from those them but it is well worth noting that only a small percentage of recent winners actually won the race that got them a place at Cheltenham.

Punters who want specific races to cast an eye over should look at October’s Cheltenham Qualifier and the Heroes Handicap run at Sandown in February even though it is not one of the qualifiers.

There are some important trends to consider for the Pertemps Final though. The race is open to horses aged five and older but Delta Work became only the second five-year-old to win since the race was introduced to the Cheltenham Festival in 1974. The sweet spot in terms of age is between seven and 10 so punters must have very good reasons for backing any horse who falls outside of this range.

Chart Showing Ages of Pertemps Final Hurdle Winners

The other range to carefully consider concerns the weights. Horses with an official rating of over 150 find it very difficult to make their class show with the amount of weight that they are forced to carry. Backing a horse carrying less than 11st is ideal but the unpredictable nature of the Pertemps Final Hurdle is reflected in the fact that even the top weighted horse has won previously.

The lightest runners to win the race were Rogers Princess in 1989 and Creon in 2004, both of whom were carrying 10-0. The heaviest was the 2017 winner, Presenting Percy, who carried a hefty 11-11 to victory.

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