Saturday's Betfair Exchange Trophy betting preview: Latest runners, riders, odds and trainer quotes for the final fieldDecember 22, 2018
Top-weight Jolly's Cracked It is warm order for the race after winning impressively over course and distance earlier this month – and we've got all you need to know right here.
1. Jolly's Cracked It – Noel Fehily/Harry Fry (13-2)
Lightly raced nine-year-old thrashed Chatez over course and distance after a lengthy break last time out.
Has a big chance even off top-weight provided he doesn't bounce following such a long period off the track.
Noel Fehily and Harry Fry are flying at the moment and the duo field a worthy favourite.
Harry Fry on Jolly's Cracked It
"Jolly's Cracked It came out of his victory at Ascot in good form..
"It was great to see him roll back the years after 706 days off with a tendon injury.
"We had been pleased with him at home, but he still had it to do giving weight all round to some decent rivals. It was great to see the patience of his owners rewarded.
"He's been favourite for the race, but the handicapper was quite impressed with his return putting him up 9lb. We're back up to a very high mark, so he's got to prove to be better than ever.
"He's had plenty of time to recover. Hopefully all his problems are behind him now, and we can look forward to making the most of the rest of his career."
2. Cyrius Darius – Barry Geraghty/Colin Tizzard/(14-1)
Smart in his youth but injury has curtailed his improvement and he finished well back at Haydock last month.
Has his second start for Colin Tizzard and also his second start after a wind op but needs to show more to be a winning contender.
Drops back in trip now after travelling well for a long way last time.
3. Fidux – Tom Cannon/Alan King (12-1)
Has started this season with a bang, striking twice in competitive contests at Southwell and over course and distance.
Won by eight lengths last time from a horse who has since gone on to win himself, and he is quite clearly an improved animal this term.
Will need to prove he can defy a 10lb higher mark in a fiercely competitive contest.
4. Western Ryder – Richard Johnson/Warren Greatrex (10-1)
Drops in class after finishing an admirable fourth in the Grade 2 International Hurdle last weekend.
Turned out quickly but is due to be raised 5lb so is theoretically well-in.
Won his only start at the track and has strong claims with the champ on board.
5. Mohaayed – Harry Skelton/Dan Skelton (20-1)
Last season's County Hurdle winner at the Cheltenham Festival is yet to scale those heights in two runs so far this season.
Looks handicapped to the hilt of 145 and connections turn to cheekpieces in the hope they will eke out a bit more.
Gets his required ground for the first time this term.
6. Mont Des Avaloirs – Harry Cobden/Paul Nicholls (14-1)
Ran well to be third at Newbury last time out, just behind Global Citizen and Lisp, who re-opposes.
Raised 3lb for that but there's probably a bit more left in the tank as he's still very lightly raced.
Owners had a winner in these colours at the track on Friday and Paul Nicholls is in flying form.
7. Mr Antolini – Jamie Bargary/Nigel Twiston-Davies (12-1)
Has been very consistent without winning in recent weeks and looks to hold major claims judged on his run at Haydock last time.
He only got run out of it late on that day and this drop back in trip should suit.
Nigel Twiston-Davies has had five winners in the last two weeks and his progressive sort should go well.
Nigel Twiston-Davies on Mr Antolini
"He's done nothing wrong. He's been first or second in nearly all his runs, so we're hoping for a big run.
"He's proven over further. If it keeps raining, the ground will be quite testing, so that would be good and they should go a good pace."
8. Lisp – Wayne Hutchinson/Alan King (12-1)
Form ties in with a few of these and it was a nice performance to finish second at Newbury last time.
Looks a really progressive type having had just three starts in handicap hurdles and definitely has more to come.
Ascot should suit his strong travelling style and he has major claims.
9. Grand Sancy – Lorcan Williams/Paul Nicholls (18-1)
Chasing a hat-trick after wins at Wincanton and Haydock.
Claimer Lorcan Williams is very good value for his 5lb and a mark of 136 is potentially quite lenient considering he has won a Listed event in good style last time (albeit a weak one).
Has a chance for his in-form trainer.
10. Fiesole – Aidan Coleman/Olly Murphy (11-1)
Has his first start for Olly Murphy following an impressive handicap win at Tipperary off a much lower mark.
Clearly thought capable of landing this by his new trainer, who is a shrewd operator in this kind of event.
Could be a blot on the handicap if he's improved since his move across the Irish Sea.
11. Flying Tiger – Chester Williams/Nick Williams (16-1)
Former Cheltenham Festival winner hasn't won since that victory in 2017.
Unseated last time out in the race won by Jolly's Cracked It and needs to show more zest if he's to land this.
Chester Williams takes off a valuable 7lb, meaning he's now 8lb below his last winning mark.
12. Tornado Watch – David Mullins/Emmet Mullins (14-1)
Totally different conditions to those he faced in the USA on his last two starts but he comes into this in good form.
Slightly difficult to weigh up how good his mark is but he'll be suited by conditions and his trainer is a shrewdie.
Won on this kind of ground last year and should go well.
Emmet Mullins on Tornado Watch
"He's been a great horse. He's really done wonderful things for me this year.
"He's won a few races, and we got a trip to America out of him – which was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
"He came back and ran well the last day in Fairyhouse. The pace and things didn't work out for him, but we're hopeful he'll run the same sort of race and be bang there again on Saturday.
"Fingers crossed. He wears his heart on his sleeve. He's a real old warrior, and I hope he'll turn up for a battle again."
13. Man Of Plenty – Sean Houlihan/Sophie Leech (25-1)
Won impressively out of the blue at Sandown last time out, blitzing a decent field by seven lengths.
The deep ground clearly suited that day and now he has to defy a 9lb rise.
This is a different kettle of fish and his erratic record suggests he'll struggle to follow up.
14. Nietzsche – Danny McMenamin/Brian Ellison (12-1)
Won the Greatwood last time out under an enterprising ride from this jockey but will need to progress again to defy a 6lb rise.
However, he beat Silver Streak at Cheltenham that day who has since gone on to run very well in graded company.
He has a good strike rate over hurdles and it would be no surprise to see a big run.
Brian Ellison on Nietzsche
"It was great to win a big handicap hurdle like that at Cheltenham, and Nietzsche has come out of it in good form.
"A lot of juvenile hurdlers lose their way in their second season. He was the same – and we didn't know why, because he used to work so well.
"This year, he has returned to form and was a good second at Newmarket, which set him up well for the Greatwood. The tongue tie we put on him also helped."
15. Lord Napier – Sean Bowen/Peter Bowen (40-1)
Looks to have a fair bit to find against some of these but can be given a squeak on his best form.
Produced a nice run on reappearance and should improve on that.
Needs to prove himself on heavy ground.
16. Not Never – Jamie Moore/Gary Moore (14-1)
One of the more intriguing runners in the race having won a handicap by 16 lengths at Plumpton when last seen.
Unlikely to be found wanting for fitness coming from this yard though will need to prove he can match his new mark.
Has a good chance if coping with the ground (has won on it before).
17. Forecast – Conor Shoemark/Martin Keighley (28-1)
Won ridiculously easily at Lingfield last time in a far weaker race than this.
However, he was so impressive that day that it would be folly to discount him under ground conditions that will be ideal.
Will need to defy a hefty rise in weights here.
Martin Keighley on Forecast
"Forecast is doing really well. Since he had a breathing operation, his form has improved with every run.
"I am not quite sure what he beat last time at Lingfield, but he did it very easily. He handled the very soft ground well at Lingfield and hopefully a strongly-run two miles around Ascot should suit him well.
"Saturday offers a big prize, and we thought it was worth a shot at a race like this rather than going for another small race.
"There is a lot more rain forecast to arrive at Ascot, which will suit him. The horse is really well at the moment, and Conor Shoemark gets on brilliantly with him, so we are hoping for a big run."
18. First Figaro – Charlie Deutsch/Venetia Williams (25-1)
Had some smart form in his youth when trained by Dermot Weld and looked to be coming back to that level when winning last time at Hereford.
Opening mark could be a bit tough based on recent history, despite the fact he's probably decently handicapped on his bumper form.
Trainer is in good form and this one likes the mud.
19. Court Royale – Adam Wedge/Evan Williams (25-1)
This is a big step up from his handicap win at Taunton last time and connections do look to be tilting at windmills.
However, the horse he beat last time won a handicap very easily here yesterday so the form has a strong look to it.
Ground conditions are an unknown and he's not guaranteed to go on it based on pedigree.
20. Friday Night Light – David Noonan/David Pipe (40-1)
Having his second start after a wind op and sports first-time blinkers so clearly he's not one to rely on heavily.
Needs to rediscover some form and has never really shown that he's capable of winning a race of this nature.
David Pipe had a winner here yesterday but another would surprise.
21. Chatez – Brendan Powell/Alan King (14-1)
Found the favourite far too strong last time but has a chance at the weights now.
Needs to improve and often comes unstuck in these big races.
Has an engine when all goes right, though, and will love these conditions.
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