What are the best bets in the Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle?
16:50 Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle, 2m1/2f
Last year’s 1-2-3-4: Qualando (25/1), Bouvreuil (14/1), The Saint James (33/1), Starchitect (16/1) – 22 ran.
Paul Nicholls won last year’s Coral Cup with a French import on his stable / British debut and he’s attempting to repeat the trick in this contest with Diego Du Charmil, who had three runs on native soil and produced his best effort when second in a conditions hurdle at Enghien when last seen in November. He’s no doubt been well schooled by the champion trainer, who has won this twice in the last decade, but any value has surely now gone. Top price: 5/1 bet365.
Who else is fancied?
Gordon Elliott’s Campeador is another interesting French import and he was a fair fourth in a Leopardstown Grade 2 on his Irish debut back in December, despite running far too keen. He’s not been seen out since due a ‘little hold-up’ after Christmas but he’s reportedly working well at home and has attracted some shrewd money in recent weeks.
And the rest?
This race has become a bookies’ benefit – winners at 25/1 (twice), 33/1 and 40/1 in the last four runnings – so it’s easy to look past the front two for some value. As five of the last 10 winners were French-bred, that is perhaps the best place to look and both Messire Des Obeaux and Voix Du Reve have shown promise on their solitary starts for Alan King and Willie Mullins respectively since leaving Gallic waters.
One French bred who has yet to cross the English Channel is Le Curieux who will provide Francois Nicolle with his first Cheltenham runner. The trainer is not just coming over for the craic either as his four-year-old has shown some smart form at Auteuil, most recently finishing fourth in a Listed contest, and has been schooling over some Brtitish-style hurdles at Maisons-Laffitte. Leading owner JP McManus (who already has Campeador running in his colours) must have seen something in him as he bought him up recently and that saw his 33/1 price tag halve.
Others worthy of some respect are Ardamir, Missy Tata and Jaleo, but don’t be too surprised if the winner hasn’t been mentioned here.
Trainer quote: “He jumped well at Maisons-Laffitte and wasn’t hesitant. He’s a big horse with a long stride and my sole worry would be if he were to be caught for a little speed, but he’s tough and experienced.” – Francois Nicolle on Le Curieux.
Best bookie offer?
Paddy Power are refunding losing stakes on the second horse home as a free bet, while Boylesports are refunding stakes in the same way if your horse finishes second to the SP favourite.
What’s the verdict?
Having flagged up the chances LE CURIEUX on these pages a while back and had a little on each-way at 33/1, I’m, not going to desert him now. He’s still value at 16/1 and especially when you consider he has the beating of the current favourite Diego Du Charmil on collateral French form – it pays to do your homework!
SELECTION: Le Curieux each-way @ 16/1 bet365 NRNB & Best Odds Guaranteed
All odds were correct at time of posting.