After a solid victory in yesterday’s Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton, it looks like Elgin’s owners. Elite Racing, will pay the £20,000 fee to supplement him for the Champion Hurdle. The 6-y-o gelding was already having a good season before lining up to try to give weight to the field yesterday. And, as is often the case with good horses, particularly those who are improving, it’s not so much what you do, it’s the way that you do it.
Cliffs of Dover had set off as though the devil were after him and the others were forced to ignore him, rather than necessarily choosing to, so quickly did he go clear. They caught him approaching the turn in and as they straightened for home we saw the first clue. Elgin was not only travelling better than the rest, but he was moving with power and purpose. Taking it up two out he steadily forged clear, never looking like being caught.
Elgin is well made and looks to be getting stronger with racing. He shows an appetite and gameness that is undiluted by quirks and – as he showed in the Greatwood at Cheltenham – will do battle all the way to the line. That course win will serve him well (he was 7th in The Supreme in his only other Cheltenham run).
Alan King, his trainer, says the horse has flourished in the past five weeks and while it’s always best to treat the comments of close connections with care (they are all optimists), King is fairly level headed and, more importantly, we saw evidence yesterday of that improvement. His rating should hit 160 now and that entitles him to run in the big one, even more so because he’s on an upward curve and might go there five or six pounds better than he is now. The last 4 winners of the Champion Hurdle lined up off these ratings: 157: 162: 169: 165.
That 157 rating for Buveur D’Air has now risen to 169, but we have the immense benefit of being able to bet without the favourite. Not only that but we can bet each way without Buveur D’Air, and take the 16/1 available with Betfair (sportsbook) and Paddy Power. The latter also have High St shops if you do not bet online. But you shouldn’t hang about as this price is twice what it should be in my view, with the added bonus of money back if Elgin doesn’t line up. It won’t last 48 hours.
Other than Buveur D’Air, it’ll be a sub-quality Champion Hurdle unless Faugheen bounces right back. For example, Ch’Tibello, who was comprehensively beaten by Elgin yesterday, is just 8/1 in this without the fav market (quite how they work that out I don’t know; Elgin gave him 4lbs and beat him comfortably).
For newer punters, the without the fav market means that if your selection wins the race or finishes second to the favourite, you get paid the full win odds. If the fav is in the first three and your horse is in the first four, the each way part of your bet is paid at 1/5th win odds.
I strongly recommend* that you back Elgin each way, NRNB at 16/1 in the market without Buveur D’Air at 16/1
Despite all the positives surrounding this, as ever, don’t bet more than you can afford to lose with a smile.
*For an explanation, see here