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2019 Leamington Novices’ Hurdle tips – 9/4 shot to keep the good form flowing at Warwick

A view of the runners in last year's Leamington Novices' Hurdle, won by Mr Whipped (centre).

Our expert takes a look through the ante-post betting for this Grade Two at Warwick and provides readers with his tips on Saturday 12th January.


Classic day at Warwick features several excellent races, with the Grade Two Leamington Novices’ Hurdle building up perfectly to the namesake race on the afternoon. Inglis Drever claimed victory in the second renewal of this two-and-a-half-miler back in 2004 and the future Stayers’ Hurdle winner has since been joined on the honours boards by Willoughby Court, Deputy Dan and The New One.

Nicky Henderson celebrated as Mr Whipped brought the Leamington back to Seven Barrows 12 months ago and he will be hoping Birchdale (6/4 Coral) can continue his unbeaten career record at Warwick this weekend. The JP McManus-owned novice won well over course-and-distance on his stable debut – beating a talented stablemate and two subsequent winners by four lengths – so it’s easy to see why the bookmakers have made Birchdale the short-priced favourite.

Tidal Flow (9/4 Ladbrokes) is no stranger to beating Nicky Henderson-trained novices, having relegated two highly-rated horses into second on both his starts to date. Philip Hobbs’ six-year-old survived some late wanderings to beat Before Midnight at Kempton, but registered a much more composed display at Newbury, where Richard Johnson’s mount comfortably held Downtown Getaway at arms-length.

Colin Tizzard’s Rockpoint (8/1 William Hill) has improved massively since stepping up to three miles and, after securing a strong victory in the Bristol Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, the six-year-old was pushed towards the head of the betting for the Albert Bartlett at the Festival. While dropping back a couple of furlongs shouldn’t be an issue, Rockpoint will have to shoulder a penalty at the weekend and that five-pound burden could make all the difference.

Henry Daly isn’t a name you often see in big Graded races, but Stoney Mountain’s (7/1 William Hill) form this season warrants a crack as something this prestigious. Victory over Aye Aye Charlie on debut was followed by a narrow defeat to Doux Pretender, but the Trevor Hemmings flag-bearer bounced back in good fashion at Southwell, seeing off a modest field with the ease befitting his starting price.

Following a two-length victory on his jumping debut, few were expecting Beakstown (11/1 Ladbrokes) to suffer defeat up at Newcastle. The odds-on favourite was, however, pipped to the post by the 50/1 outsider of the pack, but that hasn’t stopped the Skelton’s throwing their novice into Grade Two company and Beakstown has to be respected.

Barry Geraghty riding Birchdale clear the last to win The Actioncoach Invest In The Best Maiden Hurdle at Warwick.


Moonlighter was a 16/1 outsider when he clashed with Tidal Flow at Newbury, but was travelling as well as anyone before coming down at the second. Heavy falls can often rock young, inexperienced horses and it’s probably best to watch Jane Williams promising charge to see if he has fully recovered.

Emma Lavelle has tasted success in this race twice before, but even she will admit that Down The Highway has a fair bit to find. Coolanly was the impressive winner of the Hyde earlier in the season and wasn’t given much of a chance when forced to make the pace in the Challow. While Fergal O’Brien’s charge has the ability to bounce back, like Rockpoint, he will have his work cut out trying to carry a penalty to victory.

Of the outsiders in the betting, Champagne Court (16/1 William Hill) offers the most each-way appeal. Jeremy Scott’s novice may have faded badly when expected to challenge Angel’s Breath in The Kennel Gate, but some good performances on the point-to-point circuit make you think the step up in trip will bring about further improvement and he shouldn’t be inconvenienced by the unusually firm underfoot conditions.

Birchdale clearly has plenty of supporters and Nicky Henderson’s novices have been in good form so far this season. Yet, at the odds, TIDAL FLOW makes the most appeal, having impressed more on his two starts to date.

Philip Hobbs’ charge made plenty of mistakes on his debut and wandered around before the last, but the way he recovered his composure and kept on to beat Before Midnight was impressive. Downtown Getaway is one of my horses to follow this season and Tidal Flow looked ripe for the picking as Henderson’s novice loomed up on his shoulder before the final flight. Richard Johnson’s mount, however, wasn’t for passing and kept on to score a mightily impressive victory.

Tidal Flow clocked an RPR of 141 at Newbury, some seven pounds clear of the mark Birchdale was handed for his maiden success. Both currently hold odds of 25/1 for the Ballymore, so there clearly isn’t much between them, but I fancy Tidal Flow to have the edge and hand Philip Hobbs and overdue Graded success.


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2019 Leamington Novices’ Hurdle tips – 9/4 shot to keep the good form flowing at Warwick

Our expert takes a look through the ante-post betting for this Grade Two at Warwick and provides readers with his tips on Saturday 12th January.

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