The Grade 2 Elite Hurdle over an extended 1m 7f is the feature race at Wincanton on Saturday, 6 November (3:35). It is a pity that only seven runners go for this contest as that reduces each way terms, but there are some classy types entered.
Three favourites in the Elite Hurdle betting have wins in the last five years, so respect the market leader. Over an eight-year period, there is a 50-50 split for successful horses either coming here off a run or landing the spoils on reappearance. Paul Nicholls has a record seven wins in the race but none after 2015.
This used to be a handicap but the cream usually rises to the top in the Elite Hurdle. Six of the last eight winners had an official rating of 149 or higher. Daryl Jacob has been the jockey to follow with five victories in the last decade, so SportsLens experts start with his mount in their analysis of this year’s renewal…
Why Sceau Royal is favourite in the Elite Hurdle betting
Dual race winner Sceau Royal has obvious claims of adding a third victory to his CV. Trained by Alan King for owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, this nine-year-old Doctor Dino gelding has been a magnificent servant. Whether it’s fences or hurdles, Sceau Royal has been hugely consistent and tops official ratings.
He defied top weight in this back in 2016 and bolted up by nine lengths. That was the first of five career Grade 2 successes to date, so this is Sceau Royal’s level. After victory in the Welsh Champion Hurdle at Ffos Las last autumn, he regained this crown in style. Sceau Royal ran out an easy 7 1/2 lengths winner over Tequany. There is nothing for fear from the re-opposing runner-up.
Off the back of that, he chased home Epatante in the Grade 1 Fighting Fifth at Newcastle. That race was marred by chaos caused by the loose horse Not So Sleepy. Despite a fall when back over fences at Kempton during Christmastime, Sceau Royal then landed the Game Spirit at Newbury on his next start. He was then an unlucky in-running fifth in the Queen Mother Champion Chase.
King started Sceau Royal back over the smaller obstacles like last season, and he looked as good as ever at Kempton. A comfortable 3 1/2 lengths defeat of last winter’s Christmas Hurdle hero Silver Streak is the best form on offer here. Sceau Royal has every right to be the Elite Hurdle favourite at 11/8 with BoyleSports for a successful defence.
Enigmatic Goshen a danger on pick of form
Wincanton will be thrilled that the winners of its two big hurdle races from last season take each other on. Goshen sluiced up in the mud during the Kingwell Hurdle in February, so returns to the scene of his greatest triumph. Trained by Gary Moore, it has become clear that this five-year-old needs right-handed races.
Goshen ruined his Champion Hurdle hopes by jumping alarming out to that side at Cheltenham. It was another luckless outing for him at the home of National Hunt horse racing. However, that doesn’t mean the son of Authorized can be written off. When competing on a clockwise track at Punchestown last time out, Goshen got closer to the top three from Cheltenham.
The Elite Hurdle is a much easier assignment. Goshen’s record fresh is a mixed bag, a bit like the horse himself. If it’s a going day, however, then he is a major danger to Sceau Royal. Goshen is four years younger than the favourite, has just 1lb to find on official figures and Moore’s stable is in fine form coming into this.
What punters gambling on horse racing betting sites have to weigh up is reliability. Goshen doesn’t tick that box right now but clearly has talent. He is an enigma and 5/2 with Betfred for another Grade 2 victory at Wincanton. Goshen concedes race fitness to Sceau Royal, so our experts side with that one instead.
Irish duo worth considering as each way alternatives
If a mark of 149 is the minimum needed to win recent renewals of the Elite Hurdle, then only two others merit consideration. Both come over from Ireland for the contest. Belfast Banter made remarkable progress this spring, but little has gone right since. Trained by Peter Fahey, this six-year-old Jeremy gelding plundered the County Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
Belfast Banter then followed-up with a Grade 1 triumph back in novice company at the Aintree Grand National meeting. Those successful raids on British shores command him respect. His back form with Echoes In Rain from Naas also reads very well here. Over the summer, however, Belfast Banter has made costly mistakes in handicaps at home.
An on-song Goshen and slick Sceau Royal mean there is no hiding place. Poor hurdling will be punished. Nonetheless, Belfast Banter is the clear best of the rest according to the betting. He is 15/2 with Bet365, so the one most likely to capitalise if both or either of the top two don’t run to form.
Norman Lee saddles Grimes Hurdle hero Sole Pretender here, meanwhile. On official ratings, this seven-year-old Gold Well gelding is the third best horse in the race. Sole Pretender was home in front of Belfast Banter off only 1lb worse terms in the Galway Hurdle last time out. This demands more, but best odds of 10/1 with the same firm may shorten.
Elite Hurdle 2021 Tips & Shortlist
- Sceau Royal *****
- Goshen ****
- Belfast Banter ***
- Sole Pretender ***