One of our jump season guidelines is the difficulty for 4/5yos to win at marathon distances. When hurdlers are 3 turning 4 they get weight-for-age allowances when lining up against older horses to compensate for their relative immaturity. that disappears quickly for the following season when 4 turning 5.
Whilst this may be fair in most events, our observation would be that an allowance would be reasonable for 3m hurdle events where it appears immaturity persists for that season.
By way of illustration no 5yo has won either the 3m World Hurdle or 3m Pertemps Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival since 1990, and even though it is a novice event weighted to younger horses, only two 5yos have won in 13 runnings of the Albert Bartlett.
A by-product of this is that we can therefore expect horses campaigning at long distance hurdles to improve from the end of their 4/5yo season into their 5/6yo season and hence be potentially well-handicapped.
The Pertemps qualifier at Newbury today offers the chance for just such an observation with the lightly raced 5yo Beneagles.
He starts the season rated 127 after a very promising first campaign, and he represents the Alan King yard whose horses so often run well in the final of this event.
He probably needs to get to a mid-130s rating to get into the final and an early season win here should get him very close and allow King to plot as light or heavy campaign as he wishes.
The natural maturity theory, the lightly raced improver, the stable that targets this division – it all points to a good bet.
Recommendation: Beneagles (1310 Newbury), 2pts win, 7/1 generally available
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