Pertemps Handicap Hurdle
A race that receives a lot of criticism, due to the way that the qualifying aspect has led to some farcically run races, with horses aiming to finish in one of the qualifying spots whilst staying as far away from winning as possible, it has led to some very interesting runs and caused the race to become a bit of a minefield to unpick. Often times you are better off looking towards the horses that finish 5th or 6th in a qualifier, without being asked too many questions. Before I discuss my selections for the race, I will give a big shout to one who I think has a massive chance, but is too short for me to put up in a race like this, two time winner of the race, Sire Du Berlais. After winning the race in 2019 and 2020, he was a good second in last years' Stayers' Hurdle. He is now 4lbs higher than his last win in the race, but connections have mentioned utilising a claimer on board and as a horse who thrives at Cheltenham, could put in a huge run.
The first horse that I'm going to put up is a previous Champion Bumper winner in Ballyandy. He was fourth in the Supreme the following year and has that bit of back class to him. He was grade one placed behind Epatante and considered good enough for a Champion Hurdle shot, finishing a respectable 8th. Despite winning a grade two of his own and placing in the 2019 Coral Cup too, it would be fair to say he never quite hit the heights expected of him. His first few runs this season were poor and he looked a shadow of himself, beaten a combined 48 lengths in his first two runs. Both of those defeats were over 2 miles, and his next two starts he was upped to 2 and a half miles, the first he was a little better than he had shown previously, but the second was full of promise when he was a staying on second beaten just over 2 lengths. It was his most recent two runs that have led me to back him here, once upped in trip to 3 miles. When finally stepped up in trip, he demolished a small field by 18 lengths in an easy manner. The second that day was Kansas City Chief, a 13 year old, but one who has been in brilliant form this season. Kansas City Chief won a qualifier himself back in October, before a listed third, he then won another course and distance handicap beating favourite for this race, Sporting John, by 9 lengths. The second that day, Botox Has, has since won a grade two. Ballyandy beat him easily giving lumps of weight, before qualifying for this race by winning a qualifier next time out. Typically those that win a qualifie, don't usually win the main race, and that has left him with a mark of 150 and fourth in the weights overall, 3rd if Sporting John goes for the Stayers'. It doesn't bother me too much though with him, as he was previously a high class, 157 rated horse, who is massively unexposed at this trip. His record over three miles is 411 with the 4th coming in a strong grade two. If they opt to claim weight off him here, he's another who could run a big race at a juicy price.
My second selection is right down the other end of the handicap, Whatsnotoknow for Mouse Morris. He is another horse who is unexposed, which is funny to say considering he has run in no less than 9 handicaps already this season. However, of those, only three have been over this trip. His three mile record is 3UR4, the 3rd and 4th both came in massive field handicaps, one of which being a qualifier. Unseating in the other when joining the leaders two out and clipping heels with another horse when short of room. It was a very unfortunate fall, as he was still travelling well. He was raised 10lbs by the UK handicapper, which is arguably harsh considering he hasn't won in over two years, but that period hasn't been devoid of promise, placing in a grade three and running some decent placed races in handicaps. The rise now leaves him 22nd in the entries, meaning he is guaranteed to get into the race. He finished 8th in Shishkin's Supreme, just behind last years' Coral Cup Heroine, Heaven Help Us, and was grade three placed in a novice chase campaign, so does have some back class too. I think he is one of the more interesting runners and another who wouldn't surprise me in outrunning his odds, especially off near enough bottom weight.
I didn't back any Ante Post for this race, as it's a race I like to wait and see the weights for and watch all of the qualifiers before making any assessments. So that just leaves us with these two selections:
Ballyandy- 25/1 0.5pts each way 5 places (NRNB)
Whatsnotoknow- 25/1 0.5pts each way 5 places (NRNB)