Betfair Hurdle preview: Ciel De Neige value in Newbury’s big betting handicap

14th September 2021

2020 Betfair Hurdle preview from Newbury includes Ciel De Neige (centre)

Irish raider Ciel De Neige is a lightly-raced and promising sort who looks on a handy mark, so he can land the spoils in the 2m Grade 3 Betfair Hurdle at Newbury on Saturday (15:35).

This five-year-old shaped well in three runs in France, most notably when a 8 1/2 lengths fourth of eight to Pci D’orhy at Auteuil.

The winner is a useful sort who has won since, then finished runner-up in a Grade 2 and a Grade 1 at the same venue.

He was sent off at 12/1 when finishing 10th Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival back in March on first start for Paul Nicholls off a rating of 149.

Ciel De Neige, who was subsequently bought by JP McManus, then ran a blinder on his debut for Willie Mullins when third of 21 to Band Of Outlaws in the Grade 3 Fred Winter.

That juvenile handicap hurdle also takes place during the Festival.

After being held-up, he made a mistake three from home before making good late headway to be nearest at the finish and beaten just over three lengths off a mark of 132. It was a terrific run.

The runner-up Coko Beach, from whom he was receiving just 2lb, has won since and finished second in a Grade 2 off 142.

That form reads well in relation to this and Ciel De Neige comes into the contest on the back of two solid runs this season.

Eye-catching at Fairyhouse

In the first of those at Fairyhouse, Ciel De Neige was a huge eye-catcher when finishing fourth of 15 to Janidil.

After being held-up at the rear well-off the pace, the son of Authorized kept on strongly under a hand and heels ride from Barry Geraghty – who dropped his whip after jumping the sixth flight – to be nearest at the finish and beaten just under six lengths.

Ciel De Neige was then turned over in a maiden hurdle next time out when sent off the 1/4 favourite, but got badly impeded two from home when travelling strongly before flying home and failing by only a head to overhaul Argumental.

He was a desperately unlucky loser, but it means that he is able to race in this off an unchanged mark of 135.

That could well underestimate his ability. Ciel De Neige hails from an in-form yard and appeals as the type that has a big handicap pot like this in him.

So, taking everything into account, he looks to have lots going for him and makes plenty of appeal at odds of 14/1 on offer with BetVictor for the Betfair Hurdle.

Never Adapt another Betfair Hurdle player for JP

Leading owner McManus also has another contender in the shape of Never Adapt, an impressive winner when last in action.

This five-year-old mare was ultra-impressive on her sole start in France for Guillaume Macaire when bolting up by 10 lengths in a conditions contest.

After being bought by McManus and sent to Nicky Henderson, she was then pitched into Grade 2 company on her first start for her new handler.

Never Adapt finished third of six to Quel Destin in the the Prestbury Juvenile Hurdle at Cheltenham.

She went down very keenly to post, then pulled like a train in the early part of the race and totally refused to settle.

Never Adapt was clear approaching three out, but then looked cooked as a result of those early exertions when making a mistake two from home and later getting outpaced.

She then somehow found reserves to rally and stayed on strongly to be beaten just under four lengths at the line.

It was a remarkable performance, given how the race panned out, and one which showed that she clearly has a huge engine.

Quel Destin has won five times since – including a Grade 1 – to be rated 149, so that gives the form a solid look.

Unexposed and yard in-form

Never Adapt was allotted what looked a very lenient opening handicap mark of 128 on the back of that effort.

She ran really well off it on seasonal reappearance when a keeping on 1 3/4 lengths third of 12 to Repititio at Cheltenham.

The handicapper put Never Adapt up 2lb for that. She then showed the benefit of that outing when quickening cleat to easily beat Golden Tapian by just over three lengths at Kempton.

Never Adapt is up a further 10lb for that most taking display, but a revised rating of 140 still looks exploitable on her aforementioned run behind Quel Destin.

The Betfair Hurdle is also a traditionally run at a strong gallop.

That should enable the headstrong Never Adapt to settle better in the early stages and save her energy for the business end of affairs.

After just four starts, the daughter of Anabaa Blue also remains totally unexposed and open to any amount of improvement for an in-form yard operating at a strike rate of just under 27 per cent in the last 14 days at the time of writing.

Henderson has also won the race five times, most recently with the McManus owned My Tent Or Yours in 2013.

There is nothing not to like about the profile of Never Adapt, then, who can be backed at 8/1 with Paddy Power. They pay six places.

Mack The Man another with leading Betfair Hurdle claims

The market is headed by the hat-trick seeking Mack the Man, a 6/1 shot with Betfred and progressive sort who hails from the red-hot yard of Welsh handler Evan Williams.

This Angela and William Rucker owned six-year-old opened his account over the obstacles on seasonal reappearance at Warwick.

He only needed pushing out there to beat Lightly Squeeze by two lengths off a mark of 115.

The runner-up, to whom he was conceding 6lb, has gone on to win three times since. Yet Mack The Man now meets that re-opposing rival on 13lb better terms.

That suggests that there is no way that Harry Fry’s charge will be able to turn the tables, for all that Lightly Squeeze has clearly improved since.

Mack The Man has since gone on to follow-up in fine style at Sandown.

He travelled strongly throughout and showed a smart turn of foot to readly beat Protektorat by 1 3/4 lengths in a competitive 13-runner affair off a rating of 122.

Mac The Man was value for more than the winning margin. The runner-up has since won a Listed contest at Cheltenham, only to lose it in the stewards’ room then be reinstated as the winner after an appeal, and finished a fine third in a Grade 2 at the same venue to now be rated 144.

That gives the form a rock solid look. As Mack The Man was receiving only 6lb from Protektorat that day, it suggests that a further 8lb rise in the weights to 130 could well be very lenient indeed.

He is also versatile as regards ground and is a strong traveller with a potent turn of foot. Those are the ideal attributes for this test, so a bold bid to go in again looks assured.

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