Big-priced outsider Souriyan is strong on the trends
Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle, 2m110y Old Course (due off 4.40pm)
This will be only the 11th running of the Fred Winter but it’s quickly become one of the most fiercely competitive races of the entire festival, drawing the second rank of juvenile horses from the Triumph Hurdle. With so many unexposed runners locking horns, it has developed a habit of throwing up shock results, with the last three winners priced at 33/1, 25/1 and 40/1. That doesn’t bode well for the current favourite Hostile Fire, although he hails from last year’s winning stable and has clearly been laid out for the race. He’s progressed in each of his three runs over hurdles, winning smoothly at Fairyhouse last time, and he hasn’t been harshly assessed by the handicapper, with his rating of 131 well within the desired range – nine of the last ten winners were rated between 124 and 133. Top price: 8/1 Boylesports.
Who else is fancied?
Where to start and it would be no surprise to see punters latching on to a half dozen or so ‘plot’ horses on the day. The problem for punters (and the handicapper) is that there is so little form to go on and the winner has almost certainly been hiding his proverbial light under a bushel. In addition to the previously mentioned weight range, another strong trend to emerge is the prominence of French-breds. Such horses have won four of the last ten renewals and a French-bred has finished first or second in the last three runnings. Those that fill that bill and are rated between 124 and 133 are: Baron Alco, Bouvreuil, Box Office, Buiseness Sivola, Gwencily Berbas, Qualando and Souriyan. Other well-handicapped sorts include Zarib (133), who ran well against leading Triumph Hurdle contenders at Cheltenham in January and qualified with an effortless win at Wincanton, and dual winner Starchitect (133), who bumped into the Triumph-bound pair of Peace And Co and Hargam when finishing second on his last two starts.
Any decent outsiders?
You wouldn’t rule any of the runners out but, rather than list them all here, it’s worth paying some more attention to the aforementioned Souriyan. The form of his Exeter win from two subsequent winners looks strong and he can be excused a narrow defeat at Ffos Las last time as the ground was bottomless. Being out of Group 1-winning sire Alhaarth, he will seems almost certain to appreciate any drying of the ground and his trainer Jamie Snowden, who broke his festival duck in last years novices’ handicap chase with Present View, has been sounding quietly confident.
Trainer quote: “Souriyan didn’t handle the ground at Ffos Las particularly well. But I thought he showed real guts and determination. At Exeter he showed a lot of class. If he can combine the two at Cheltenham I’d like to think he’d have every chance in the Fred Winter.” – Jamie Snowden on Souriyan.
Best bookie offer
Most bookmakers will be keeping their day two offers under wraps until the day before, understandably, and it’s almost a given that at least one firm will offer each-way backers five places, as opposed to the standard four – watch this space!
You could back a dozen and not be confident about landing on the winner, but SOURIYAN looks to have the perfect credentials and he’s a value each-way price too.
Selection – Souriyan @ 25/1 Paddy Power