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Keyflow Stage1v3

Newbury Racecourse: 41 still going for the £155,000 Betfair Hurdle on Betfair Super Saturday

Violet Dancer wins the 2015 Betfair Hurdle (Photo: Newbury Racecourse)Violet Dancer wins the 2015 Betfair Hurdle (Photo: Newbury Racecourse)A total of 41 horses remain on course for the £155,000 Betfair Hurdle, following the January 23 scratchings deadline.  It is Britain's richest handicap hurdle and it's run at Newbury Racecourse on February 10 as part of Betfair Super Saturday.

Top weight is six year-old Elgin - trained at Barbury Castle by Alan King and owned by the Elite Racing Club. He has already scooped valuable handicap hurdles at Ascot and Cheltenham this season.  He is currently 20-1 with Betfair.

Trainer Gary Moore has saddled three winners of the race, most recently with Violet Dancer in 2015. His two remaining entries are headed by Knocknanuss (10st 10lb), a comfortable winner when last seen at Fontwell on Boxing Day.

Moon Racer (left) at Newbury (Photo Newbury Racecourse)Moon Racer (left) at Newbury (Photo Newbury Racecourse)Another 20-1 chance is nine year-old Moon Racer trained by David Pipe.  He won the Champion Bumper in 2015, but has only run twice since winning the Supreme Trial Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham in November 2016.  However, owners Professor Caroline Tisdall and Bryan Drew have had a string of successes recently at Newbury.

Heading the market for this two-mile contest is Lalor (10st 12lb). A G2 bumper winner at Aintree in April last year, the six-year-old has finished in the first three in a trio of decent novices' hurdles so far this season, most recently taking second at Cheltenham on December 15.

Following this week's news of the death of trainer Richard Woollacott, Lalor is now trained by his wife Kayley.

Nicky Henderson, who has trained a record five winners of the Betfair Hurdle, has aquintet of entries for this year's Betfair Hurdle, including the mare Kayf Grace (11st 1lb), a comfortable winner at Kempton Park over Christmas and Jenkins (11st 4lb), who has won his on his latest two appearances, mostly recently taking a G3 handicap hurdle at Ascot on January 20.

The other entries from Seven Barrows are Verdana Blue (11st 6lb), third in a valuable G3 handicap at Ascot on December 23, last season's G1 Triumph Hurdle sixth Charli Parcs (11st 6lb) and Lough Derg Spirit (10st 13lb), second in the G2 Elite Hurdle at Wincanton in November.

Gwafa (Paul Webber, 11st 1lb) was a very useful performer in 2016, when he landed novices' events at Fakenham and Huntingdon before defeating seasoned opposition in the G3 Swinton Handicap Hurdle at Haydock in May that year.

Lightly-raced since his Haydock success, the seven-year-old made his first start in 14 months with a Flat outing on the All-Weather at Lingfield Park on January 20, when he came home sixth in a mile and a half handicap.

Gwafa races in the colours of Saleh Al Homaizi and Imad Al Sagar, famously carried to success in the 2007 Epsom Derby by Authorized.

Trainer Paul Webber: "Gwafa had a nice spin at Lingfield and everything has been good with him since then.  He had a suspensory problem after he ran at Kempton last season, so that is why he had been off the track."

"He probably wants a bit further than a mile and a half these days, especially at a track like Lingfield, so I thought it was a good performance at the weekend and Fran Berry said the horse gave him a good feeling."

Three Irish-trained contenders remain engaged, all trained by Willie Mullins - Lagostovegas (11st 8lb), Bleu Et Rouge (11st 7lb) and Voix De Reve (11st 6lb). The latest of the four Irish-trained to take the Betfair Hurdle was Essex in 2005.

The next acceptance stage for the Betfair Hurdle is at the five-day stage on Monday, February 5.

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