Horse Racing: Lanzarote Hurdle

Paul Nicholls’ decision not to run Brampour in the Lanzarote Hurdle (2.40pm, Kempton, Saturday) has meant that the weights have gone up 5lb and allowed all bar the bottom three in the weights into the handicap proper. Nicky Henderson’s progressive 7-year-old Bear’s Affair (4/1) now carries top weight of 11st 12lb.

Bear’s Affair is on a hat-trick after winning impressively on his seasonal debut at Aintree last month. He’s clearly suited by 2 miles 5 furlongs on soft going on a flat track, but he’s 12lb higher in the weights and the horses that finished immediately behind him at Aintree have all been well beaten since. Of course, he could only beat what was put in front of him on that occasion, but there’s enough of a doubt about him to suggest that he’s worth taking on.

Nicky HendersonNicky Henderson (pictured) also saddles his lightly-raced eight-year-old Oscara Dara (7/1), who was last seen when finishing second in a novices’ chase at Plumpton in December. The fact that he’s been restricted to just six career starts suggests he’s had his problems, but he did manage to win two novices’ hurdles last season, one at Sandown and one at Punchestown. He also finished fourth, beaten 16 lengths, behind stable companion Darlan in a Grade 2 novices’ hurdle at Aintree last April. He clearly has ability, but his fragility has to be a worry.

Paul Nicholls relies on his six-year-old Black Thunder (6/1), who’s shown progressive form in two starts so far this season and failed by just a neck to overhaul Yesyoucan, who was receiving 14lb, over 2 miles 4 furlongs at Haydock in November. He’s clearly worthy of respect, but Yesyoucan’s poor run next time casts some doubt over the form and he’s 6lb higher in the weights in this better race.

Alan King’s Araldur (12/1) was campaigned exclusively over fences last season, without success. He did win on his seasonal reappearance over hurdles at Sandown seven weeks ago. The form of that victory, over 2 miles 6 furlongs, has been franked by the third horse, Amigo, who won at Chepstow last week and Araldur has won over course and distance in the past. A 7lb rise in the weights looks fair enough and although, like many of these, he takes a slight step up in class, he looks to have bright prospects of following up. His new hurdles rating of 133 is still 8lb lower than his current chase rating.

Trainer Charlie Longsdon’s Loose Chips (12/1) is a habitual front runner and another on a hat-trick, having already won twice over course and distance, on soft and heavy going, this season. He could lead the field a merry dance once again, but the fact that he is 12lb higher in a better race could halt his progress. It’s also interesting to note that Noel Fehily, who’s ridden him to both victories around Kempton, heads to Warwick instead on Saturday.

Philip Hobbs’ Lamb Or Cod (14/1) was disappointing when only 8th of 17 behind Yesyoucan at Haydock when last seen in November and is held by Black Thunder on that form. He has time on his side, but the form of his previous win in the Silver Trophy at Chepstow in October has also taken a few knocks, so he’s probably best watched.

Of those at longer prices, Oscar Prairie (20/1) emerged from a spell in the doldrums with a respectable second to the progressive Gevrey Chambertin at Wincanton last time and would have some sort of a chance if able to reproduce that form. That’s a big if  because he’s been pulled up as often as he’s completed in his last ten starts, but he’s very well treated with Bear’s Affair on their form over course and distance last March.

Lanzarote Hurdle Betting Tips Advice

In a race where it’s possible to make a case for at least half a dozen runners, our preview’s betting tips’ advice is to back ARALDUR to win at 12/1 with Coral (if that has gone then try SkyBet or Betfred who were both 11/1). The presence of Loose Chips in the field should ensure an end-to-end gallop. If that happens then it is not difficult to envisage Araldur being produced late, as he was at Sandown, and staying on well when many of the others have cried enough.