Rolling Star can bounce back from his Ladbroke Hurdle disappointment and land Newbury’s upcoming showpiece, with odds of 6/1 about the five-year-old’s Betfair Hurdle chances in Berkshire.
Ladbrokes have installed the Michael Buckley-owned charge as their joint-second favourite alongside Irving to capture the renewal following trainer Nicky Henderson’s upbeat assertion that the French-bred gelding is “seriously well”.
Meanwhile, the latter’s saddler, Paul Nicholls, won this event in 2011 with Zarkandar and will be confident of more success with a Grade Two winning selection who’s unbeaten in three starts over timber.
That number of runs could be significant given that the previous four winners of this race had run in three hurdle events before taking this valuable handicap.
But there’s every reason to be believe Henderson’s Rolling Star can overcome his rival and potentially announce his credentials for this year’s Cheltenham Festival.
Owner Buckley has told the Racing Post: “I’ve seldom heard Nicky as positive about one of my horses. He is working better than he ever has done. If he can translate what he’s been doing on the gallops to just down the road at Newbury he has a big chance.”
And if Henderson and Buckley’s sentiments are to be taken at face value then we could be about to witness the best of Rolling Star, rather than his disappointing Ascot worst.
After all, it’s worth remembering that this is a mount that came to prominence last season following victory over Nicholls’ 5/1 favourite and Holloway’s Hurdle winner, Irish Saint.
However, following reversals in both the Ladbroke and last year’s Triumph Hurdle, you could argue that perhaps Rolling Star has a lot of questions to answer when it comes to the big races.
Despite those doubts, the championship trainer’s vote of confidence for his star entrant shouldn’t be taken lightly.
That’s especially true given the effect of his latest soundbite on the market, with three of the last four Betfair Hurdle winners going off as either first or second favourite.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
Fancy a flutter? Sign up today to claim up to £50 in free bets.