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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Horses to consider for the Juvenile Handicap Hurdle

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Open to horses aged four years old, Cheltenham Festival’s Juvenile Handicap Hurdle is a premier handicap run over a distance of two miles and half-a-furlong and will act as the penultimate race on the opening day. Introduced to the Festival’s schedule in 2005, National Hunt racing fans have been treated to some exceptional contests over the past 18 years – and with a strong field of entries expected to line up in 2023 – that should continue.

With that in mind, read on as we take a look at the Juvenile Handicap Hurdle horses to consider when dissecting the Cheltenham day 1 antepost betting markets.

Tekao

With two wins from four starts to his name, the Willie Mullins-trained Tekao has been impressive in both victory and defeat throughout his young career. After securing a relatively easy triumph at Lyon Parilly in his debut in April of last year, the French-bred horse looked on track to make it back-to-back successes before a mistake at the last meant he had to settle for a third-placed finish when stepping up in trip at Navan.

He would roar back into the winner’s column only a month later though, reigning supreme by just half-a-length in a maiden hurdle fixture at Leopardstown. Tekao would again finish third when he saddled up last time out – however – given it was against respected opposition in multiple-time Grade 1 runners Gala Marceau and Lossiemouth, he still made a good account for himself.

For those interested in placing a bet on the Juvenile Handicap Hurdle, at the time of writing, Tekao sits as the favourite at 4/1.

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Byker 

A more experienced four-year-old than the aforementioned Tekao, what Charles Byrnes’ Byker lacks in consistency, he makes up for in activity. With eight races to his name thus far – all of which have come since April of 2022, Byker has had some less than stellar performances in which he weakened late, to coincide with a couple of impressive outings at Windsor and Nass where he kept on well to win by just shy of four and two lengths respectively.

Given the fact that in both of Byker’s triumphs he had to beat a short-priced favourite to do so – don’t write off the 13/2 Cheltenham shot just yet to do the same at Prestbury Park this month.

Nusret

Similarly to Byker, the Joseph O’Brien-trained Nusret has been active since debuting in September of 2021, securing three wins in his 12 starts to date. Despite being unable to take home the spoils in nine of those 12 appearances, the British horse has been there or thereabouts in almost every one of his races, oftentimes falling short to hot prospects on the National Hunt racing scene, with Lossiemouth and Blood Destiny the two most notable names on that list.

He didn’t fall short in his most recent outing however, overcoming some poor jumps in the middle third of the race to run on strongly and finish over the top of Perseus Way by more than a length. Nusret has firmed in the betting lines as a result of his performance at Kempton, and is garnering a price of 8/1 – which is good for third favourite.

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