Paul Nicholls's Irish Saint was an emphatic winner of the Grade Two Holloway's Hurdle at Ascot last time out and the progressive Ditcheat star will return to the handicap sphere on Saturday afternoon in what looks an ultra-competitive renewal of the Betfair Hurdle.
He relished the testing conditions that day and with the ground likely to be similar he should put up a bold show and with him currently ahead of the handicapper he has to set the standard for what is one of the toughest betting conundrums of the season and a real pointer to a plethora of races at the Cheltenham Festival.
David Pipe's Dell' Arca stormed to glory in the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle, but unseated in the Ladbroke Hurdle last time out and will have to bounce back in this event, however, he looks to have some significant improvement in him and is another prominent figure in the betting.
Nicky Henderson's Rolling Star was unable to land a blow in heavy going in the Ladbroke Hurdle last time out, but he is a potentially progressive handicapper and is an eye-catching contender, whilst 2011 Champion Bumper winner Cheltenian may lack experience over timber, but he is still very lightly raced and could feature prominently.
Nicholls will not only saddle the aforementioned Irish Saint, but Far West will look to reverse the form with Rolling Star from earlier in the season and is another exciting raider, with Willie Mullins adding more intrigue to the race by sending over the hat-trick-seeking Smashing, as the Irish handler bids for more British glory.
Of the others, Alan King's Vendor has winning form in these sort of competitive handicaps and can't be dismissed, with the likes of Swing Bowler and Chris Pea Green just another couple of top notch handicappers bidding for the coveted prize on a cracking card from Newbury in which the Denman Chase will also star.
5/1 Irish Saint
6/1 Dell' Arca
8/1 Rolling Star
10/1 Far West
16/1 Deep Trouble
16/1 Swing Bowler
20/1 Chris Pea Green
20/1 Recession Proof
20/1 Gibb River
25/1 Vasco Du Ronceray
25/1 Jumps Road
25/1 Splash Of Ginge
33/1 Act Of Kalanisi
40/1 First Avenue
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The Betfair Hurdle is a Grade Three handicap race run at Newbury over two miles, 110 yards for horses aged four years or older.
Origingally known as the Totesport Trophy, the contest is widely regarded as one of the most fiercely-contested handicap hurdles of the whole calendar and can often throw up a future Champion Hurdle prospect.
However, only two horses have managed to win this race before going on to the Cheltenham Festival and win the 2m Tuesday showpiece. Persian War was the first to achieve the feat in the 1960's before Martin Pipe's Make A Stand won this contest in 1997 before going on to Prestbury Park a month later to lift the Champion Hurdle crown.
More recently the winner of this race has often been kept down the handicap route and are often seen competing in either the Coral Cup or County Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
Geos won this race on two separate occasions in 2000 and 2004 for his trainer Nicky Henderson, who has incidentally got a decent record in this contest having notched up four winners since 1998.