Challow Hurdle Tips: Expect More Skelton Success

The Challow Hurdle is the Grade 1 on the card at Newbury.
The Challow Hurdle is the Grade 1 on the card at Newbury.

The Festive action continues as Newbury takes over from Kempton and Leopardstown to host Grade 1 action. Joe Tuffin takes a look at the Challow Hurdle and picks his best bet… 

It’s Grade 1 after Grade 1 at the moment, and it’s now the turn of Newbury to step up to the plate with the Challow Hurdle -  a race which often provides us with a star of the future. Bravemansgame, Champ and Denman are all past victors, and it’s the Paul Nicholls trained Stage Star who is the current fancy from the bookmakers to add himself to this illustrious list.

One of the more campaigned in the field, the five-year-old has posted some nice runs since entering the hurdling world, winning on both of his starts in both Class 4 and 3 level. Yet to really be tested, this is the first time he’ll face a real challenge but there is that sense of Denman to him, and he’s treading a well trodden path for these smart Nicholls sorts, so naturally has to be feared - he’s plenty short enough however and certainly isn’t the value play.

Lossiemouth is by far the most campaigned in this field with ten runs under his belt, double the amount of the next most and is also the only one to win atGraded level, having dotted up in Grade 2 Ballymore Winter Novices’ Hurdle last time out. This 14-length demolition job was impressive to say the least - but there’s certainly question marks over the opposition he faced that day and while he would be the wisest bet on paper, again at 7/2 in a race filled with uncertainty it’s probably best to gamble elsewhere.

The one that catches my eye in terms of impressive form combined with a more ‘fun-to-back- price’ is the Skelton trained West Balboa, who was mighty impressive when winning her only start under rules at Warwick in November, scooting clear of her rivals to win by a widening 17-lengths - one of whom was an odd-on Nicky Henderson/JP McManus runner, which is a combination that must always be feared. She really could be anything, but I suspect she could well be a rocket, and the fact Harry Skelton had to only sit still on her on her first start under rules is a really encouraging sign. The race she won isn’t a stranger to a good horse either, The Glancing Queen won it last year and went on to finish third in the Challow Hurdle, with other impressive horses such as  Molly The Dolly and Rene’s Girl - both also from the Skelton yard - using this race as a springboard to bigger and better things. It would have been nice to have eight runners for more favourable each-way terms but at 8/1, with the benefit of a 7lb Mares’ allowance, she’s worth a gamble to succeed here and introduce herself as one to seriously follow going forward.

The final of the fancied runners is Gringo D'aubrelle, the sole Irish runner from the field of seven. Like many others in this field, he’s shown plenty of promise in lesser events to this and recently beat the Willie Mullins trained Adamantly Chosen in a Fairyhouse Maiden Hurdle. Watching that back, he was probably lucky to win with his rival - who was a year his junior at aged four - making a catalogue of novicey errors throughout the race which more than amounted to the three-and-a-quarter lengths he was eventually beaten by, and you’d therefore argue that chinks in Gringo D’aubrelle’s armour have already been exposed - and will more than likely be exploited here. A Gordon Elliot raider must always be feared, and the form behind Blazing Khal is impressive for sure, but he probably hasn’t been the best horse in both his hurdles starts and there’s not much to suggest he is here either.

Go Dante was touted as a star of the future after hacking up in both his bumper and hurdles start, but has hus bubble severely burst when out in his place by two-and-a-half lengths as the 2/7 favourite at Ascot. His jumping that day was novicey, and he will surely improve for it, but the excuses are limited and the overriding reaction to that performance was that he just isn’t quite what we all thought - it would take some turn around to win here.

The field is completed by Party Business and High Stakes, both way out the betting at 18/1 and 25/1. Both are winners under rules, though the latter only in bumpers and he didn’t do anything on hurdles debut (when finishing second) to suggest that he’s up to this task. The formers form is a bit more convincing and was a good winner of a Class 3 at Ascot at 22/1, but that was his first win and the odds of course suggest that wasn’t expected. His form prior to that reads 332-8 and while he’s clearly a talented horse, a Grade 1 could be a bit beyond his remit.

Challow Novices' Hurdle
West Balboa silk

West Balboa

Challow Novices' Hurdle Odds
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