National Spirit Hurdle Betting Tips

The 2019 National Spirit Hurdle betting tips given by Betting.org experts say the class-dropping If The Cap Fits is a worthy favourite to land the spoils in the valuable 2m 3f feature Grade 2 contest at Fontwell on Sunday, 24 February. Last year’s winner Old Guard represents the in-form Paul Nicholls and is a tough and consistent sort, so is feared most. Ballymoy, meanwhile, is another with claims in a cracking renewal. Full details about these horses’ chances can be found below in our 2019 National Spirit Hurdle betting tips preview.

Boylesports logo
Odds
2/1
Selection
If The Cap Fits
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Ladbrokes logo
Odds
4/1
Danger
Old Guard
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Paddy Power logo
Odds
7/2
E/W
Ballymoy
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If The Cap Fits a worthy favourite for National Spirit glory

The feature race at Fontwell on Sunday is the Grade 2 National Spirit Hurdle (14:50), and If The Cap Fits looks a worthy favourite to land the valuable 2m 3f contest now up in trip. This Harry Fry trained seven-year-old is very light-raced, but has a tremendous strike rate of 75 per cent having won six of his nine starts.

After landing back-to-back bumpers either side of Christmas 2016, the son of Milan went to Aintree and ran a blinder when a 2 3/4 lengths fourth to Lalor in a Grade 2. He looked the type to make up into a top class hurdler, and that view was confirmed when he won all three starts last season at Exeter, Bangor and Kempton.

In the latter, If The Cap Fits stayed on well for a five-length success over Diese Des Bieffes, but injury then ruled him out of the Cheltenham Festival. Fry duly gave him plenty of time to recover and he ran really well on return to action in the Grade 2 Elite Hurdle at Wincanton in November when a 2 1/4 lengths runner-up to Verdana Blue.

Lightly-raced sort with plenty of scope to progress

If The Cap Fits shaped as if needing the outing – his first for 319 days – and duly went one better when showing a smart turn of foot to beat Old Guard by 1 1/2 lengths in the similar grade Coral Hurdle over 2m 3f at Ascot. It was a most taking performance and, despite now being 6lb worse off with the re-opposing runner-up, he is fully expected to confirm the form.

Connections pitched If The Cap Fits into Grade 1 company on the back of that and he was far from disgraced when finishing a six-length third of five to Verdana Blue in the Christmas Hurdle. Kempton is a sharp track and that combined with the 2m trip didn’t play to his strengths.

That form sets a clear standard in this lower grade affair he’s now eased to, while the step back up to 2m 3f is sure to suit. If The Cap Fits is 2-2 over this distance and also has a 66 per cent strike rate on the forecast ground.

So, with regular pilot Noel Fehily once again in the saddle, there is nothing not to like about his chances in this. Thus we fully expect If The Cap Fits to get the job done and had no hesitation in making him the main selection in our 2019 National Spirit Hurdle betting tips.

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Reigning champ Old Guard sure to give it his best shot

The aforementioned Old Guard is a tough and consistent sort who landed the spoils in this 12 months ago. This Paul Nicholls trained eight-year-old found plenty when pressed on the run-in to beat the re-opposing Lil Rockerfeller by 1 1/2 lengths and comes into this year’s renewal on the back of some solid efforts.

They include when third of 18 to Nietzsche under a big weight in the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham – a race which has worked out well and thrown-up a whole host of subsequent winners. Old Guard also ran very well at the same venue last time out when a keeping on 2 3/4 lengths third to Midnight Shadow in the Grade 2 Relkeel Hurdle.

Those efforts command Old Guard plenty of respect, but he was firmly put in his place by If The Cap Fits in the Coral Hurdle and is fully exposed in relation to that progressive rival. However, pluses are that he hails from a yard that is on fire at present and has the services of Harry Cobden in the saddle, who is operating at a strike rate of just over 36 per cent at the time of writing.

Old Guard can also be relied upon to run his race and looks sure to make a bold bid to retain his crown. He looks the obvious danger to If The Cap Fits and the one to take advantage if the favourite fails to live up to expectations.

Ballymoy can’t be totally ruled out

Ballymoy is another with claims as he’s rated just 3lb below If The Cap Fits and gets 2lb from both that one and Old Guard. This six-year-old hails from the yard of Nigel Twiston-Davies and has won six of his nine starts over the obstacles.

After making a winning return to action at Chepstow back in October when staying on strongly to beat subsequent winner I’m A Game Changer by two lengths, the son of Flemensfirth ran very well in the Listed 2m Gerry Feilden Hurdle at Newbury when a 4 1/2 lengths fourth to Global Citizen.

The winner has since beaten the the useful Silver Streak by three lengths in the Grade 2 Champion Hurdle Trial at Haydock, so that gives the form a solid look. Ballymoy then got back on the scoresheet with an authoritative 4 1/2 lengths success at that Merseyside venue.

Another progressive horse

He backed that up with a career-best performance at Ascot when landing a 10-runner Grade 3 handicap by 1 3/4 lengths from Colonial Dreams. Ballymoy tracked the leaders going well in the latter, before taking up the running four from home.

Although then strongly pressed after the last, he gamely dug deep and was well on top at the line. It was a most taking display and the Simon Munir and Isaac Souede owned gelding was far from disgraced last time out when seventh of 16 to Lord Napier in another hot graded handicap hurdle over 2m 7f at Sandown under the welter burden of 11st 12lb.

Ballymoy shaped well for much of the race until weakening two from home, so the drop back in trip could well see him in a better light. He looks the type that hasn’t finished progressing and appeals as a bigger threat to the two market principals – according to these 2019 National Spirit Hurdle betting tips – than the Colin Tizzard trained Vision Des Flos, who hasn’t shown a willing attitude in his races.

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