Newbury Super Saturday Betting Tips - 8th February 2020

We are fortunate in British racing to benefit from a wide range of high-quality racetracks, bringing a diversity to the sport unparalleled anywhere else in the world. Amongst this varied list we have those tracks which specialise in the flat side of the game, those for which it is all about the National Hunt action, and finally those tracks who do an excellent job of staging both flat and jumps action.

Falling firmly into the third of those categories is the Berkshire venue of Newbury. Home of the prestigious Lockinge Stakes on the level, Newbury also lays on a number of excellent National Hunt cards throughout the season, including this February offering. Squeezing in three Graded contests, excellent handicapping and novice action, in addition to an informative Bumper event, to its seven-race card, they don’t call it Super Saturday for nothing!

 

About Super Saturday at Newbury

Newbury Racecourse and Golf Club

Known as Betfair Super Saturday for sponsorship reasons, this is a day of racing that is up there with the best of them in terms of classic jump ranging held at Newbury Racecourse. The Berkshire course is one that is perhaps best known for flat racing, but offers decent jump racing during the National Hunt season.

The main race of the day is the Betfair Hurdle, but with three Graded races and a Listed bumper on offer during a program of seven races, it’s fair to say that there’ll be something for everyone over the course of Super Saturday. There’s a decent amount of prize money available and it’s a good tester for jumpers before they head to the Cheltenham Festival, so the meeting often attracts some of the biggest names in the industry.

The Super Saturday Race List

The big races come in the middle of a day of top-quality racing and the more race-savvy amongst you will want to keep up on the other races to see what bets you should be placing.

As always, the order of races and even the races themselves can be altered when the meeting comes around, but here are the ones that will run in 2020:

RacePrize MoneyAgesObstacles
Newbury Super Saturday
Betfair Novices' Hurdle £10,400 4 Years Old + 8 hurdles
Betfair Handicap Hurdle £20,000 4 Years Old + 12 hurdles
Betfair (Game Spirit) Chase £50,000 5 Years Old + 13 fences
Denman Chase £50,000 5 Years Old + 18 fences
Betfair Hurdle £155,000 4 Years Old + 8 hurdles
Novices' Limited Handicap Chase £13,800 5 Years Old + 18 fences
Betfair Bumper £20,000 4-6 Years Old -

The Main Races in Detail

Let’s have a look at those standout races from the day. Two Grade 2 and one Grade 3 offerings as well as a Listed bumper are nothing to turn your nose up at, especially when the horses that do well in the Grade 3s often go on to perform well at Prestbury Park when the Cheltenham Festival rolls around.

Betfair Hurdle

The race that many consider to be the feature race of the day is the Grade 3 Betfair Hurdle. Run over two miles and sixty-nine yards, the race features eight hurdles and is open to horses aged four and up. It’s limited to a field of twenty-four runners and is a handicap, meaning that there’s no weight information to give you as the handicapper decides how much each horse should carry in order to make the race as fair as possible.

The Betfair Hurdle was first run in 1963 and, interestingly enough, was actually run at Aintree. Back then it bore the title of the Schweppes Gold Trophy because of sponsorship, with Schweppes continuing sponsorship duties until 1986. Having moved to Newbury in 1964, the race endured some controversy during its more formative years. Ryan Price trained four of the first five winners with Josh Gifford in the jockey’s seat, but the Gifford was suspended for six weeks following the second of those wins.

After 1987 the race took on another long-term sponsor, this time in the form of the totalisator betting company Tote Bookmakers, which later became Totesport. For that reason it was known as the Tote Gold Trophy and then the Totesport Trophy before Betfair took over sponsorship duties in 2012 and retitled it as the Betfair Hurdle.

This is a good race to watch if you want some clues about the possible destination of the Champion Hurdle, which is run during the Cheltenham Festival a month later. Persian War and Make a Stand are good examples of horses to win both races in the same season, doing so in 1968 and 1997 respectively.

Horses that do well here often go on to become decent chasers, such as Deep Sensation, who won it in 1990 then the Queen Mother Champion Chase in 1993, or Zarkandar, who was victorious in this event in 2012 and then won the Elite Hurdle and the International Hurdle later in the same season.

Geos and Rosyth are the only horses to have won the race more than once at the time of writing, though Jamie Moore, Jamie Osborne and Sam Twiston-Davies have all won it twice as jockeys, whilst Mick Fitzgerald and Tony McCoy have won it three times apiece. Josh Gifford remains the standout jockey, though, with four wins at the start of the race’s existence.

All four of Gifford’s wins came on horses trained by Ryan Price, though that’s still not enough to make him the race’s most successful trainer, with that honour falling to Nicky Henderson who has seen his horses cross the finish line first on five occasions to date.

Betfair Chase (Game Spirit Chase)

This Grade 2 race is open to horses aged five and over. It’s run over two miles and ninety-two yards, with thirteen fences that must be jumped during the course of that. First run in 1953, it’s named in honour of Game Spirit, which won twenty-one races over six seasons and was owned by the Queen Mother. Though he never won one of the big races, he did finish third in the Gold Cup at Cheltenham in 1974 and second in the Champion Chase two years later.

The race was named in Game Spirit’s honour after he died of a lung haemorrhage in March 1977 after racing at Newbury. The race was given Grade 2 status in 1992, having been run as a Limited handicap before that. It has had a number of sponsored titles over the years, taking on the moniker of the bookmaker Betfair in 2012.

A number of horses have won the race more than once, with the most notable being Viking Flagship, Master Minded and Altior. Horse that do well in this race often go on to be strong chasers, with Viking Flagship being one such example. He won it in 1994 then went on to win the Queen Mother Champion Chase that year and again in 1995, winning the Melling Chase in 1995 and 1996. Other well-known winners have been Flagship Uberalles, Dunkirk and Azertyuiop.

When it comes to jockeys, most of the biggest names in jumping have won this race more than once during their careers. The likes of Tony McCoy, Richard Dunwoody and Barry Geraghty have all stood on the winner's podium at least twice, though none come close to Ruby Walsh’s four wins. Equally both Nicky Henderson and David Nicholson will feel hard done to not to be the race’s premier trainer with four and five wins respectively, beaten out of that honour by Paul Nicholls with seven wins.

Denman Chase

The other Grade 2 race is the Denman Chase, which was first run as the Aon Chase in 2000. It received Listed status two years later and then was moved to Grade 2 the year after that, holding this since 2003. It has held numerous different sponsored titles over the years, switching to become the Denman Chase after Betfair took over in 2012 and chose to use it to show respect to Denman, who won it in 2008.

In terms of why this race is worth watching, look no further than the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Kauto Star, Denman himself, Coneygree and Native River have all won this and the Festival’s premier race in the same season, so the event is seen as a true trial for it. Native River is, incidentally, the only horse to have won the race on two occasions, managing it in consecutive years in 2017 and 2018.

Newbury has been the victim of poor weather numerous times, leading to the 2009 running being moved to Kempton Park and the 2019 one shifting to Ascot, though the latter move was because of an outbreak of equine flu that year.

Aidan Coleman and Mick Fitzgerald have both won the race twice as jockeys, with Ruby Walsh doing so three times. Yet they all trail behind Richard Johnson, who won it four times between 2004 and 2018. Likewise, Colin Tizzard and Nicky Henderson have both trained two wins, but Paul Nicholls is unquestionably the standout master of the Denman Chase. A Nicholls trained horse has won it no less than nine times!

Winter Bumper

The final race worth mentioning is the Winter Bumper, also known for sponsorship reasons as the Best Odds On The Betfair Exchange Bumper. It’s run over two miles and sixty-nine yards and is open to horses aged four to six. In case you don’t know, ‘bumper’ is a term given to National Hunt flat races, so there are no fences to be jumped during the running.

First run in 1996, it was actually promoted to become a Grade 2 offering in 2002 before later shifting back down to being a Listed race. It has had a number of different titles during the years, often seeing a sponsor’s title come before the words ‘Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race’. Betfair took on the name in 2012.

Many consider this race to be a good trial for the Champion Bumper, which is run during the Cheltenham Festival. No horse has yet won both races, though in 1999 Monsignor finished fourth in this before going on to win the Champion Bumper a month later.

As with most bumpers, horses that run in them often go on to become good hurdlers. Iris’s Gift won this race in 2002, for example, and then the likes of the Sefton Novices’ Hurdle and the World Hurdle in the years that followed. Shutthefrontdoor won it in 2012 and then the Irish Grand National in 2014, but it’s Al Ferof that takes the title of most successful horse to win it, doing so in 2010 before winning the November Gold Cup two years later.

It’s another race that many of the biggest names in jockeying have won at some point, including Mick Fitzgerald, Nina Carberry and Ruby Walsh, but the honour of most successful jockey goes to Tony McCoy with three career wins. Likewise both Paul Nicholls and Nigel Twiston-Davies have trained two winners, but it’s Nicky Henderson and Jonjo O’Neill that take the title of best trainers in the event thanks to three wins apiece.