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Tritonic and Onemorefortheroad all set for rematch in £155,000 Betfair Hurdle at Newbury next month

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Tritonic and Onemorefortheroad, first and second in the Betfair Exchange Hurdle at Ascot in December, are on track to renew their rivalry in the £155,000 Betfair Hurdle at Newbury after their inclusion among 39 entries for the February 12 prize.

The two horses, trained respectively by Alan King and Neil King, who though not related are neighbours on the Barbury Castle estate in Wiltshire, finished two and three quarter lengths apart in their first clash.

They feature alongside Stage Star, the Paul Nicholls-trained novice who captured the Grade 1 MansionBet Challow Hurdle at Newbury in December, and last year’s Betfair Hurdle winner, Soaring Glory for trainer Jonjo O’Neill.

Stage Star won the MansionBet Challow Novices' Hurdle last month
Stage Star won the MansionBet Challow Novices' Hurdle last month

Five-time race winner Nicky Henderson has four entries, headed by the J P McManus-owned Broomfield Burg, while there are four entries from Ireland, two trained by the country’s champion jumps trainer Willie Mullins.

Betfair have installed Broomfield Burg as the 7-1 joint favourite with Stage Star, who was described by Nicholls's assistant Harry Derham as “a speculative entry”.

Tritonic, owned by the McNeill family and Ian Dale, has course-winning form at Newbury, but on the Flat, not over jumps.

As a two-year-old he won the Haynes, Hanson and Clark Stakes in 2019, a race most famous for producing future Derby winners.

He has won three of his seven races since switching codes and after his Ascot victory, turned out again eight days later to contest the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton, where he finished fourth of five behind Epatante.

Alan King said: “We ran him at Kempton and the handicapper dropped him a pound after that. I probably came back way too quick with him but I thought it was worth rolling the dice. He’s had a good break since Kempton, came back cantering at the end of last week and looks in good form.

“He was good at Ascot where he powered away. I just felt that he improved a lot for the experience of running in the Greatwood Hurdle in November. Mentally he was much sharper for that first run in a very competitive handicap over hurdles. That brought him on and we saw the benefit of that at Ascot.”

Onemorefortheroad, who represents Rupert Dubai Racing, has won five of his last seven starts over hurdles and won the Gerry Feilden Hurdle at Newbury in November before his latest race.

Neil King said: “The Betfair Hurdle is where he will run next. I do think a flat track like Newbury suits him better than perhaps Ascot with the uphill finish there. Nonetheless he ran his best race to date at Ascot. He is a horse on an uphill curve and I think the Betfair Hurdle is the obvious race to go for.”

The weights for the 2m handicap hurdle will be published on January 19 but on current ratings Onemorefortheroad would be 3lb better off with Tritonic.

Onemorefortheroad (Jack Quinlan) wins the Ladbrokes Committed To Safer Gambling Intermediate Hurdle at Newbury Racecourse Pic: Francesca Altoft focusonracing.com.
Onemorefortheroad (Jack Quinlan) wins the Ladbrokes Committed To Safer Gambling Intermediate Hurdle at Newbury Racecourse Pic: Francesca Altoft focusonracing.com.

“I think we have a few pounds in hand,” Neil King added. “The one thing that would stop us running would be deep ground but there is a bit of dryness in the forecast again now so I am hoping it will stay that way.

“We will be having a go at turning things around with Tritonic at Newbury and hope, if there is another King one-two, it will be the other way round this time!”

Stage Star is one of three horses entered by the Nicholls stable of which another novice Knappers Hill, the winner of five out of his six races, is the most likely representative.

“The Betfair Hurdle has been the plan for Knappers Hill while Stage Star and Hacker Des Places were speculative entries just as another option,” said Derham.

“I suppose if Stage Star was incredibly well, the ground was really deep and it looked like being a testing race then he might be a possible, but it’s not absolutely the plan.”

The Betfair Hurdle will be the richest prize of Betfair Super Saturday which also features the Grade 2 races, Betfair Denman Chase and the Game Spirit Chase, which will be run as the Betfair Cheltenham Free Pot Builder Chase.

Betfair Spokesman Ryan McCue said: “It’s no surprise to see it’s 7-1 the field for Britain’s richest handicap hurdle.

Newbury Racecourse gets ready for the Betfair Hurdle
Newbury Racecourse gets ready for the Betfair Hurdle

“Betfair Ambassador Paul Nicholls has three horses entered with the impressive Challow Hurdle winner Stage Star topping his list. He heads the betting alongside Broomfield Burg who looks like an improving novice.

“It goes to show the depth of the race when the likes of Song For Someone is in there at 16-1 so it has all the ingredients once again to be a brilliant renewal.”

Keith Ottesen, Clerk of the Course at Newbury Racecourse said: “It’s exciting to see such high-quality entries for one of the highlights of our Jumps programme. It brings together the best handicap form for the season so far with an added sprinkling of Grade 1 form including Challow Hurdle winner Stage Star and Christmas Hurdle second and third Glory and Fortune and Soaring Glory.

“It’s something for race fans to savour and, no doubt, the outcome will have a strong bearing on a number of races at the spring festivals.”

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