Today’s pick comes in the 2.10 Huntingdon Class 2 Handicap Hurdle, where hopefully i’ve found a potential improver who will have everything in his favour and will be able to pick up this prize before going on to better things!
Seven runners line-up to contest this 2m 4f dash over the smaller obstacles. Huntingdon is one of the fastest racecourses in the country, mainly due to the fact it is perfectly flat and consists of wide sweeping bends. This track undoubtedly suits speed over stamina and although ground conditions will be testing, today’s race should still be run at a strong pace. The ideal horse to look for will be one who sits close close to the leaders, has good tactical speed and can show a useful turn of foot at the end of their races.
The first contender is the top weighted Vulcanite (6/1 Betfred). Representing a trainer who has been in incredible form over the last couple of months, Charlie Longsdon, this horse will be looking to get over a disappointing run over fences last time out. He was unfortunate enough to hit one of the final fences and slither on landing, which put an end to his chances. Although that mistake proved costly, he didn't look as if he was travelling particularly well beforehand and may well have needed the run to come on. Unfortunately, off a career-high mark and back over hurdles today, he would have to produce a career best performance to win and at these weights others are far more appealing.
Of those, BROADWAY BUFFALO (11/4 Ladbrokes) must sit at the top of the list. This David Pipe trained horse showed good quality novice hurdling form last year as he won his first three starts in a row over hurdles and finished the season off by contesting a hot Listed Handicap at the Aintree Festival. He performed well that day considering he set a good honest pace on ground (good to soft) that would have been far to firm for him. He ended last season on the same mark he has currently and that looks a perfectly workable indeed. He has had one start this season at Chepstow over today’s trip and underfoot conditions in a Grade 3 Handicap. He was sent off the well-backed favourite but failed to finish off his race properly as he looked to all the world the winner coming into the home straight before his stamina faded and he finished three and half lengths behind in fourth. Burdened with carrying 1lb off top weight and setting a genuinely good pace for the others to run at he looked like he would improve no-end for the run and looks ideally suited for this race.
Another potential winner is Zuider Zee (3/1 Coral) who will be contesting only his 4th start over hurdles today and has shown good form over the flat (previous November handicap winner). Last year saw him finish two lengths behind Minnella Forfitness (the horse who went on to beat Broadway Buffalo by 28 lengths at Aintree) at Doncaster on his first start, before going on to win a Class 3 Novice event at Ayr by 10 lengths. He was clearly outclassed in a four runner event at Aintree last spring where he came up against My Tent Or Yours. On that day he was restrained at the back of the field and unfortunately he made numerous jumping mistakes. Provided those tactics aren’t used today and John Ferguson has improved his hurdling technique he could well threaten for the victory.
Hidden Identity (9/1 Coral) is a mare from the stable of Tim Vaughan who has also shown some good novice hurdling form last year. She returned to action this year by winning her last start showing good battling qualities to get up on the line to beat the useful Open Day by a neck. Although that represented a good come-back run, her running style isn’t appealing at this venue. She found herself outpaced early on last time out as they entered the home straight and had to be ridden to keep up. Ultimately her stamina brought her home on that day, however a repeat performance today could well see her struggle to make an impact on this speedy track.
Of the others, Salmanazar (5/1 Betfred) could have a lively chance depending on the improvement Alan King has coaxed out of him over the summer months. He gets the trip and handles the ground however last year he came on for his first run and has yet to encounter rivals of this class. Man of Leisure (16/1 Coral) has had a long hard summer of jumping and last time out it seemed as if his exertions had caught up with him. He finished last in a competitive Class 2 race but looked like he had had enough. He is best suited by good ground in a race where he can afford to be held up and switched off, because of that others are far more appealing. Finally we have the bottom weight of Baile Anrai (5/1 Ladbrokes) who will be having his first start over hurdles for two years. This will be the horses’ first run for a new yard and he will be better watched than backed.
There are a handful of potential winners from this line-up however I’m drawn to Broadway Buffalo who should have everything in his favour today. He will undoubtedly sit up with the pace, if not in the outright lead, and has the natural speed to really put his rivals under pressure around this racecourse. He deals with the ground and the trip, and looked mightily impressive last time out before his stamina wained. That run will have sharpened him up and, now dropped in class, he should be able to dominate from the front and hold on to win. The likeliest danger comes from Zuider Zee who similarly has the potential to progress quickly this season. Although he has the beating of my selection with a line through form with Minella Forfitness, Zuider Zee did not look as consistent over hurdles as Broadway Buffalo on both of their last starts and the experience of a run so far this season could prove to be crucial. Broadway Buffalo for the win!
BROADWAY BUFFALO (WIN) (11/4 Ladbrokes)
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