9-y-o Geos won this race in 2004. Since then, nothing older than 6 has won it. It’ll be broken some day, but there are four 5-y-olds and 12 6-y-olds in this, the 3.35 at Newbury on Sunday, so I suspect the stat will survive another year.
It’s an open race, with the remarkable Skelton yard running just one, the favourite, Cadzand. They know how to set one up for a handicap hurdle having won three County Hurdles, and the yard is in superb form.
But the Pipe yard too is in great form, with a 29% strike rate in the past 14 days, becoming 50% in the last 7 days. Pipe’s Night Edition ran a fine race in the Boodles last March finishing 2nd in that juvenile race, having had a fairly rough passage. I thought he still looked a bit green close home.
He’s been seen only once since then, tailed off at Ascot in December at 33/1. He’d been solidly consistent before that with a UK formline of 4212, and I’m hopeful this 5-y-old can bounce back in this.
Your EW choices vary from 20/1 to 7 places to 28/1 to 5 places. I’ve taken 25/1 to 6 places. I’ll leave it to you.
Champ returns at Newbury and though it’ll be a watching race for me, I don’t think he’s short of speed, and this is not a classic edition of the Game Spirit, by any means. He could spring a surprise, maybe even a major surprise, thus giving his trainer an even bigger headache for the Festival.
Remember, these are fun bets. Not for those wanting to stake big.