The Lanzarote Hurdle is one of this weekend’s feature races with the 2m5f handicap always an interesting puzzle to solve.
And while it’s still unclear at this stage which horses will run at Kempton, there’s still plenty to ponder ahead of the latest renewal.
For instance, it’s probably worth keeping an eye on the upper end of the market once the final declarations are made, given the fact that eight of the last nine winners went off at 8/1 or shorter.
Right now that brings in the quintet of course and distance winner Doesyourdogbite, Mr Mix, Protek De Flos and Bennys King.
Added to that statistic, four of the last nine favourites have obliged meaning it could pay to follow the flow of money.
The first name on that list is certainly noteworthy with Jonjo O’Neill’s unbeaten course and distance winner a game victor on Boxing Day.
Age is another factor that could play a part in Surrey. Six-year-olds have taken six of the last nine renewals from just 31 per cent of the total runners.
Therefore, Paul Nicholls’ Mr Mix is starting to tick a lot of boxes and his claims are further enhanced by his trainer’s Lanzarote Hurdle wins in 2008 and 2014.
The French-bred charge beat some useful types at Wincanton on Boxing Day although that victory means he’s now got a rating of 145.
And with six of the last nine Lanzarote winners officially rated in the 130-140 bracket that could be ominous.
Arguably of more importance though are the potential jockey bookings.
Claimers have won four of the last nine runnings, including the last three. That increases our interest in Ben Pauling’s Jaleo.
Alex Ferguson has already been booked for the ride and his 7lb claim will surely help matters and it’s worth remembering that this is a horse that went off as the 6/1 favourite for last year’s Fred Winter.
However, when push comes to shove we’re likely to side with Venetia Williams’ BENNYS KING.
Each of the previous nine winners of this race had won a hurdles contest with 10+ runners.
Williams’ 2016 hero Yala Enki was one of those and we think the Herefordshire handler has a great chance of doubling up.
Meanwhile, Bennys King saw off nine rivals to score at Uttoxeter on New Year’s Eve and the consistent six-year-old can put on another show again.
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All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing