The Paddypower Handicap Hurdle

We take a closer look into the opinions from around the industry on the feature race on New Years day at Cheltenham.

The Paddy Power handicap Hurdle is the feature race on New Years Day at Cheltenham
The Paddy Power handicap Hurdle is the feature race on New Years Day at Cheltenham

As the weather continues to cause havoc with the festive racing calendar, New Years Day looks to survive with only one abandonment, at Southwell. The highlight of the day is the Cheltenham meeting which features on ITV Racing along with a few races from Musselburgh. The feature race is the 14:40 Paddy Power Handicap Hurdle. 

A decent field in the Paddy Power Handicap Hurdle with some high quality hurdlers headed up by the Sam Thomas trained Ed Keeper (3/1 Interbet). So what do the experts think.

Cheltemham 14:40

Tom Seagal from the Racing Post

“The Paddy Power Handicap Hurdle looks a really strong race, with the unexposed trio of Springwell Bay, Butch and Ed Keeper quite rightly at the head of the market. It's not beyond the realms of possibility that all of them could end up at the festival but they all have questions to answer, whether it be trip, ground or handicap marks, and there is a chance that Ikarak might beat them all under his light weight.

He has been held back by some sloppy hurdling since coming over from France, but that didn't stop him winning the last twice and he looked to be only just doing enough. There is a chance the handicapper has been generous, and we know he likes heavy ground and stays the trip well. With Bradley Harris taking 5lb off, Springwell Bay might have to be Stayers' Hurdle class to give Ikarak 27lb.”

Ikarak 10/1

Tom Lunn from Talksport...

Butch is a nice looking hurdler for trainer Olly Murphy and Sean Bowen will be on board, with the pair often making all when taking on the McNeill Family-owned horses.

Butch has always been up there in hurdle contests since Boxing Day 2022 and has progressed even more now at 3m, winning by a huge distance to Destroytheevidence at Southwell in October and then went on to win again to beat Antrim Coast.

That latest run was over course and distance and only being upped 6lb looks encouraging.

His form ahead of Destroytheevidence has worked out well too as Shanagh Bob was the only one good enough to beat him on his subsequent run and is also in line to be a star for Nicky Henderson.”

Butch 7/2

Ex Champion Jockey Mick Fitzgerald for Paddypower

“I really like the way ED KEEPER goes through his races. He travels and jumps well and a step up in trip is just what he has been crying out for. The other horse I feel will outrun his odds is The Newest One. He won very easily on bad ground at Chepstow and the further he went the better he was going.”

Ed Keeper 5/2

Matt Brocklebank from Sporting Life...

‘With the ground already described as heavy and more  rain in the forecast for New Year’s Day, it’s all about stamina at Cheltenham where there are a couple of interesting bets on a pretty threadbare card numbers-wise.

The Dornan Engineering Relkeel Hurdle has produced a few surprises over the years and you could almost throw Marie’s Rock into that category given her uneasiness in the market before coming home by six lengths from Dashel Drasher in the same race on soft 12 months ago.

She’s a much shorter price this time around and is at least race-fit after the Long Distance Hurdle comeback, but she was particularly disappointing that day and looks up against it despite getting the 7lb allowance from market rival Bob Olinger.

Henry De Bromhead’s horse made a successful start to his campaign in the Lismullen Hurdle at Navan in November and while that form has on the face of it taken a couple of knocks subsequently, it was hard not to be impressed with the way he travelled and he was value for a touch more than the winning margin of a length having fiddled the final flight.

The distinct lack of pace in this (we’re going to be saying that a lot I’d have thought given the expected field-sizes over the next couple of months – Happy New Year!) is enough to put me off having a bet in the race, but I’d definitely be taking him in a match over Nicky Henderson’s mare and the Olly Murphy pair don’t look up to it, not least with Strong Leader – the only probable front-runner – having yet to prove himself on bad ground.”

My Bobby Dazzler 20/1 (E/W)

Matt Chapman for Paddypower...

“A handicap hurdle over 3m. This is a cracker. THE NEWEST ONE is edging up the handicap but stays strongly and has James Turner taking off 7lb which makes him interesting. Turner was on top when the pair were second at this track to Buddy One in November and there selection has since scored at Chepstow in style. An eachway chance for trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies-Davies and probably my main eachway bet of the day.”

The Newest One 11/1

Nick Luck for William Hill

COME ON TEDDY shaped well enough on his comeback to think there’s still a bit of gas in the tank (2.40pm) at 10/1. Habitually effective both at Cheltenham and on deep ground, he’ll furthermore appreciate a return to the more stamina sapping New Course over hurdles, and shouldn’t find the race getting away from him as was the case last time."

Come On Teddy 9/1

So as you can see a variety of views from the experts. Here at we don’t always agree with Mick Fitzgerald but on this we tend to agree. Ed Keeper is definitely the one to beat and the bookies seem to agree also as Ed Keeper has shortened to 5/2 already.

Check out the full tipcard for the Cheltenham 14:40 Paddy Power Handicap Hurdle.