Scottish Champion Hurdle Betting Tips & Predictions – Ayr, Saturday 13th April 2019

Scotland’s biggest single day of racing of the year comes up at Ayr in April, with a bumper eight-race card being headlined by the Scottish Grand National. Also on the menu though is the Scottish equivalent of another of England’s most famous races, as the contenders line up for the Scottish Champion Hurdle. The trip may be the same, but unlike its Cheltenham namesake this is a handicap event. That being said, the race nevertheless invariably attracts a high quality of performer.

Nicky Henderson looks set to be fighting something of a losing battle in his bid to retain his Champion Trainer’s crown, with Paul Nicholls looking all but impossible to reel in. However, we fancy it will be Henderson who may well be celebrating at the end of this particular race.

Top Tips

Verdana Blue Each way @ 7/1

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

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Race Info

A large crowd is expected at Ayr on Saturday to witness one of the highlight meetings of the Scottish racing season. A warm and dry week leading up to the race has helped firm up the turf which is now expected to be good around the left handed track. Jockeys will need to bear this in mind if this status doesn’t change as Ayr can be a tricky course at which to make up ground when the pace is quick.

GoingDistanceGradePrize MoneyRunnersEW Terms
Good 2m Grade 2 £105,000 Max 20 Runners 1/4 1-4

Recent Winners

Youth has been the order of the day in this race of late, with eight of the past 10 editions having been landed by a five or six year old. Horses with a low handicap mark have typically fared better in this race. Since 1999, there have only been two horses that have won carrying more than 11 stone, Raya Star in 2012 and Ch’Tibello in 2016.

YearWinnerSPTrainerJockey
2018 Midnight Shadow 25/1 Sue Smith Danny Cook

Analysis: Blue Is The Colour

This looks as intriguing a renewal as ever, with a good spread of runners across the age range and most of the top domestic yards represented. Once again providing a clash between proven class and ability, and those currently rising through the ranks, it looks a tricky puzzle to solve.

Verdana Has Strong Claims

There are two runners in this year’s line up who head here on the back of a run in the Champion Hurdle itself. Both hail from the yard of Nicky Henderson and they are predictably one and two in the weights. Brain Power is proven in this type of race, but of the two we prefer the chances of the mare Verdana Blue.

This one was never going to show her true colours on ground far softer than ideal at Cheltenham last time out, but is a very smart performer on her day, as she illustrated when mastering stablemate Buveur D’Air in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton. Buveur D’Air may not have been quite at his best that day, but the manner in which she travelled through her race before quickening in the straight was very impressive. If we factor in the 7lb claim of her jockey Connor Brace she comes out best in at the weights here, and interestingly three of the past six editions of this have been won by a claiming jockey.

Fisher To Catch The Prize?

Another for our shortlist here is another of the contenders from the Nicky Henderson yard, Mister Fisher. This one has a couple of excellent pieces of form in the book already this season having mastered subsequent Grade 2 winner Rouge Vif at Kempton and Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle third Bright Forecast at Haydock.

Nothing then went right for him in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle last time out, in a race where he didn’t look at all at home on the soft ground. We are always prepared to forgive a runner a below par effort in that frenetic contest though, and a repeat of either of those earlier runs would put him bang in contention here. The good ground at the track is also likely to be firmly in his favour.

Nicholls To Nick It

Of those to fit the age and weight trend in the race, Dan Skelton’s Nube Negra catches the eye but looks short enough on what he has actually achieved. A better bet at the prices may be another of the mares in the field, Malaya, from the yard of Paul Nicholls.

This five year old daughter of Martaline didn’t enjoy the best of starts to her campaign – falling in each of her first two outings – but has bounced back with two rock solid runs since, firstly when an unlucky in running fourth over a trip which may just have stretched her stamina at Ascot, and latterly when landing the Imperial Cup at Sandown off a mark of 136 last time out. She’s up 6lb for that, but granted her age may well still be improving and looks likely to be in the mix.

Final Verdict: Verdana Blue each way

Overall we like a couple of the mares in this year’s field best here. Malaya looks solid to go well at a decent each way price, but we fancy she may well just be outclassed by Verdana Blue in the closing stages. This one travels supremely well, possesses plenty of gears and may just be ideally suited by this.

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