I think P Hobbs will train the winner of the Betfair Hurdle, 3.35, Newbury, Saturday. Trouble is I’m not sure which one of his has the best chance.
The yard is in good form with a 26% strike rate (42% for placed horses) in the past fortnight. He sends Gumball, Oakley and Zanza to Newbury, and I think that Gumball is best value at 33/1. Since 1997 no horse carrying his weight has won this – he has 11.12 minus the 3lbs claim of Ben Jones. But he has an awful lot going for him, not least the ability to act on good ground on which he has won 3 from 5 (unplaced in just 1 of the 5). Many come here having raced predominantly on soft ground this season.
I think we ought to drop Oakley at this point. I’m not a great fan of stats, but there is a hellish strong one to overcome in this race: the past 13 runnings of this race have been dominated by 5&6 -year-olds. Oakley is 7.
So we are down to Gumball and Zanza.
Gumball’s jockey, the claimer Ben Jones who has a 14-day strike rate of 30% wins and 50% places (those wins are included in the place figures). Only Cobden – 33/45 – and Dingle – 33/42 can beat his percentages in this race.
As far as track experience goes over hurdles, surprisingly only 6 in this field have raced at Newbury. Hobbs’s Zanza is 2 from 2 at the track, both wins resulting in stewards’ enquiries where the stable rep had no explanation for the improvement)
Back to Gumball who has made steady progress this season, improving a stone on official ratings. He’s honest, genuine and game and if the 11.9 burden proves beyond him I’m confident he’ll go down fighting.
Zanza is also fine value at 66/1. Aside from his liking for the track as mentioned, the trip too is ideal. He is 3 from 4 at this exact distance compared to 1 from 6 at other trips. He has never run on good ground, but is 3 from 5 on good to soft. On the downside, he is inconsistent and, arguably, moody. But his liking for Newbury might once again galvanise him and 66/1 is far too big.
Gumball EW with Hills at 33/1 to 6 places. 1*bet
Zanza with Bet365 at 66/1 to 5 places. 1*bet
(Prices available at 22.15 Friday 7th Feb)
Good luck. Most tipsters are unreliable and inconsistent, including me. Don’t bet more than you can afford to lose with a smile – whatever the source of the tip.
All the best