James Boyle’s Ante-Post Value – The Boylesports Hurdle
No shortage of interesting racing this weekend, with the return of Sprint Sacre topping the lot. It’ll be thoroughly exciting to see Nicky Henderson’s machine back on the track but it’s rare that they return as good as they once were and whether he wins by a street or is beaten by a mile, I doubt any of us will be left overly surprised. Of course, I hope that it’s the former as he’s one of the most talented chasers that we’ve got and seeing him back to his best would be a truly wonderful sight.
Elsewhere, The New One gets to showcase his talents in a glorified racecourse gallop at Haydock and, barring disasters, he will have little trouble in defeating the likely six rivals before heading to Cheltenham for another Champion Hurdle tilt. Odds of 1/6 reflect his superiority over the field and we’ll learn nothing after the race that we don’t know already. It’s obvious why connections ran him in the International last month, but it’s a pity that he didn’t tackle Faugheen around Kempton.
Anyway, it’s time to take a look at Sunday’s Boylesports Hurdle at Leopardstown. As usual, it’s full of talented hurdlers who are yet to play their full hand on the track and claims can be made for any amount of them. The bookmakers are currently offering 8/1 the field and JP McManus predictably has a couple of fancied sorts up there, with Snake Eyes getting the favouritism nod at the moment. As a 7-year-old with just five outings in the code under his belt, it’s highly unlikely that we’ve seen the best of him yet and maybe he’ll finally start to show his true worth after his Sandown win six weeks ago. His quirks were still evident, but AP McCoy managed to drive him up the hill and I feel that he’s value for further than the winning margin.
Whether he’ll back it up is a question mark, however, and Leopardstown’s track might be sharp enough for him. It’s hard to know and I’m convinced that he’s well-in off 128, but there isn’t much margin for error at the current prices and I’ll have to swerve. Waxies Dargle is the other McManus horse that the market likes and further improvement is possible with him as well as he’s only a 6-year-old, albeit one that’s a little bit more exposed than Snake Eyes. Similarly to that rival, a strongly run race in a big field on top of testing ground is likely to bring out the best of him and we certainly can’t crab his last time out effort as he won a reasonable race at Fairyhouse quite easily. That wasn’t a handicap, but even so it’s a slight surprise that the assessors didn’t put him up by a few lbs and it’s easy to think that he’s fairly treated. He is, however, plenty short in the betting for one who needs to find again.
It’s 12/1 or bigger about the remainder and a small army of them are no larger than 20’s. Sifting through that lot isn’t easy but SEA BEAT (16/1) interests me on last season’s form and hopefully we’ll get to see his true worth this time. We certainly didn’t in the Ladbroke Hurdle at Ascot last time out, with the furious pace provided by Balgarry possibly catching him out somewhat as he didn’t jump as he can, nor did he travel overly well. A bad mistake four from home ensured that the now 5-year-old son of Beat Hollow had zero chance of getting involved but I prefer to judge him on some of last season’s efforts, particularly his defeat of Le Vent D’Antan at Fairyhouse. On that success, Arthur Moore’s charge is clearly capable of winning off a mark of 123 and hopefully it could be this race. He went well over C&D behind Plinth on his racecourse debut as a juvenile and I think he’ll do so once more.
Selection for the Boylesports Hurdle (Sunday, 18th January; 2:50 Leopardstown):
Sea Beat – 1pt each-way at 16/1 (4 places), available with BetVictor, Ladbrokes & WilliamHill.
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