The Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle tends to produce some massive priced winners with horses generally towards the bottom of the handicap coming out on top. The ideal profile tends to be of a lightly-raced, unexposed sort with a mark below 134.
Nick Williams saddled last years’ winner in Flying Tiger, who was a surprise at 25/1, and has another crack at this with Esprit De Somoza for Lizzie Kelly, who finally bagged a Cheltenham Festival success on Coo Star Sivola yesterday afternoon.
He will be popular but Esprit De Somoza’s form doesn’t read particularly strongly and off a mark of 135, the handicapper has certainly taken no chances.
I’d much rather be on NUBE NEGRA, who races off the same mark, and looks the stand-out horse in this race on the bare form. He has twice absolutely hosed (up on-the-bridle) this season looking hugely impressive in the process. Firstly at Market Rasen on his debut, and then again last time out against a big-field in a race run at a decent clip at Doncaster (sft, gd-sft).
A second place to Triumph Hurdle favourite Apple’s Shakira by three and a half lengths here at Cheltenham was sandwiched in between those two performances and that was a fine performance particularly given the fact that he was giving her 4lbs, and she is currently rated off a mark of 146.
Nube Negra is potentially a shade too high in the weights to win this based on recent winners, but reading that Cheltenham form with Apple’s Shakira literally would suggest that the Skelton inmate could be a few pounds well-in on official ratings, and that is normally fairly important in the Fred Winter.
A strongly run-race on this type of going should suit him down to the ground and he is difficult to pass up.
The other one I want to be on the right side of is Brian Ellison’s THE KING OF MAY, who had his first start in the UK – and just his third start over fences – last month at Musselburgh (2m, soft), where he went down by six lengths to the talented We Have A Dream.
The King Of May jumped pretty well in that race, but was caught flat-footed on the home turn, losing the race at that point, but he caught the eye when keeping on well on the flat to firmly close the gap on the beaten Act Of Valour in second to just a shade over two lengths.
Act Of Valour was giving three pounds to The King Of May on that occasion, and concedes another five more (eight in total) here and I can see the form being reversed as he was staying on the better of the two.
That experience will stand him in good stead and he should come on for the run. A mark of 128 leaves him with plenty of scope for improvement and he’s another who should have no problem with the ground having started his career over in France.
0.75pts each-way Nube Negra @9/1, 16:50 Cheltenham, Wednesday (1/4 odds, four places with Betfair)
0.75pts each-way The King Of May @11/1, 16:50 Cheltenham, Wednesday (1/4 odds, five places with Betfred)