There Betfair Hurdle is one of the handicaps of the jump season and great to see 17 runners line up even with the ground on the good side.

Philip Hobb has had a slow start this season but his string is returning to form. Monviel won easily at Ascot last November over short of two miles showing improved form. He did run well last season winning at Sandown on heavy ground in February before bombing out in the imperial Cup last March. Monviel was hit with a 10lb hike for winning at Ascot so life will be tougher rated 130. On the positive side he carries 10-10 which is a good low weight and has won three of his five hurdle starts so far in his racing career. Monviel likes to race prominently so should avoid any trouble in running and hopefully can continue his progression up the hurdling ranks with Tom O’Brien in the saddle.

Filey Bay takes a big step up in class for new owner JP McManus but is unexposed and “could be anything” as the saying goes! He is too short in such a competitive race and I’d much prefer to back Icare Allen who is one of the other two JP McManus owned runners. Willie Mullins doesn’t travel horses for the fun of it and this five year old remains unexposed following his first run in a handicap at the Fairyhouse winter festival. Last season he travelled as well as any other horse close to the final hurdle in the Grade 1 Triumph hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival won by Vauban. Icare Allen runs off a 4lb higher mark than his Irish mark which if fine and Jonjo O’Neill is a good jockey booking. A true run race on good ground on a galloping course will suit and he should be well involved at the business end of this premier handicap albeit carrying top weight of 11-12.

Newbury 3:35

0.5 point each way Monviel 11/1 William Hill, Betway & Skybet, all paying 6 places.

0.5 point each way Icare Allen 17/2 William Hill else 8/1 Paddy Power, Betfair SB & Skybet, all paying 6 places.

Best of Luck, Nicky