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Wetherby best bets: Windtothelightning can storm home ahead of surprise package El Jefe

Wetherby’s meeting makes up a decent day of National Hunt horse racing action, not least this competitive-looking handicap hurdle that might just spring a surprise or two.

16:35 Wetherby: Weatherbys Cheltenham Festival Betting Guide Handicap Hurdle (2½  miles)

There’s plenty turning up in decent form here, with War Soldier’s first handicap win over this course and distance catching the eye earlier this month, when he saw off ten decent hurdlers.

One of those rivals was third-placed The Four Sixes, who was less than two lengths behind and could feature again here, but a greater threat appears to be top-weighted Windtothelightning, who was half-way through a quickfire hat-trick this time last year, won over course and distance here in November, and will be fresh enough to go again after taking an uncharacteristic tumble at the second fence at Haydock 12 days ago.

Suggested best bet: Windtothelightning in the 16:35 at Wetherby


Of the others, North Parade has won each of his last three efforts but faces a big step-up in class here, while Uncle Bert could be useful with the benefit of his jockey’s seven-pound claim.

Among the outsiders of interest, Paddy OMahler has struggled to make an impact since switching to handicaps, which leaves the Andrew Hamilton-trained El Jefe as our top-value pick to surprise the market leaders.

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This bold-jumping seven-year-old has enjoyed a season to remember so far, backing up a couple of top-three finishes in the autumn with a hat-trick of convincing wins at Sedgefield and Haydock just before Christmas.

His reappearance this month brough two further quickfire frame finishes at Carlisle and Catterick, since when a 17-day break should see him turn up race-fit and fresh for this challenge.

Claimer Conor Rabbitt has been his regular jockey this term, so it’s worth taking note of the booking of champion jockey Brian Hughes, whose horsemanship looks well suited to El Jefe’s strong-travelling style.

He’s one pound of the handicap and has been drifiting in the market, which good be seen as a bad sign, but if in the mood it would be no surprise to see him punching above his low weight here, and he looks a decent prospect for a cautious each-way play.

Outsider punt: El Jefe each-way in the 16:35 at Wetherby



READ MORE: Ludlow racing tips: Best bets for Thursday February 29

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