Relkeel Hurdle betting tips: Wholestone fancied to bounce back at happy hunting ground Cheltenham

The 2019 Relkeel Hurdle betting tips from Horsebetting.com experts say course expert Wholestone is the one to be on the 2m 4f Grade 2 contest on Tuesday, 1 January. Clyne is feared most on two fine runs this season, while Midnight Shadow is the young improver in the six-runner field. Read all about this important New Year’s Day race in our detailed 2019 Relkeel Hurdle betting preview below.

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Odds
6/4
Selection
Wholestone
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Coral logo
Odds
11/2
Danger
Clyne
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William Hill logo
Odds
7/1
E/W
Midnight Shadow
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Wholestone can resume winning ways in Relkeel

There is arguably no horse in training that is more consistent at Cheltenham than Wholestone, so he is fancied for back-to-back runnings of the 2m 4f Grade 2 Relkeel Hurdle there on Tuesday (15:10). Trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies, the eight-year-old is four from eight at the Cotswolds venue and has never finished outside of the frame.

The Simon Munir and Isaac Souede owned gelding flopped at Newbury in the Long Distance Hurdle last season, but then bounced back to form in this 12 months ago. Connections follow a similar path this term and there may just be something about the Berkshire venue compared to the undulating nature of Cheltenham that simply suits Wholestone better.

In this race last year he led on the bit approaching the last and was driven out for a 3 1/4 lengths success over mudlark Agrapart. Although Wholestone then saw that form reverse in the Cleeve Hurdle on Festival Trials Day when stepping back up to 3m, he met the runner-up on 3lb worse terms.

Solid in Stayers’ races last season

He then went on to finish a fine five-length third to Penhill in the Stayers’ Hurdle at the Festival itself in March. The runner-up Supasundae has since finished second on three further occasions at Grade 1 level and also landed the Punchestown Champion Hurdle over 2m.

Wholestone was then beaten a similar margin when second to the ill-fated Identity Thief in the Liverpool Hurdle at Aintree’s Grand National meeting. While he was then a distant third to Call Me Lord in the Select Hurdle at Sandown on his final start of the season, it was a busy campaign.

With ground too firm for another crack at the West Yorkshire Hurdle at Wetherby, Wholestone instead reappeared in a competitive class 2 contest back at Aintree. He only needed riding out to beat subsequent Fighting Fifth third Vision Des Flos by 2 3/4 lengths.

As Wholestone was then again disappointing at Newbury, the return to his happy hunting ground is an obvious plus. He tops the official ratings on a mark of 158 and, although he must give weight to half of his rivals, his proven course form means he should be more than capable of doing so. Wholestone is thus readily taken to bounce back and rates our main selections in these 2019 Relkeel Hurdle betting tips.

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Clyne the clear danger

Welsh trainer Evan Williams saddled four winners during the busy Christmas week, so the in-form handler’s representative Clyne looks like giving the favourite most to think about here. The nine-year-old son of Hernando shaped like a stayer on his first try over 3m in the Long Distance Hurdle when runner-up to Unowhatimeanharry last time out, but dropping back in trip is no problem here.

Clyne is six from 17 over hurdles and has made the frame on eight other occasions. After disappointing in a couple of handicaps at the start of last season, connections went chasing with him but abandoned that sphere after one run when second to Testify at Haydock.

Although then fourth in two runs at this level, Clyne resumed winning ways off top-weight in a class 2 affair at Uttoxeter and ran a fine 6 3/4 lengths third to L’Ami Serge in the Aintree Hurdle over this trip. That is form in-behind the aforementioned Supasundae, who is a very consistent sort at Grade 1 level.

As Clyne is off an unchanged mark of 152 for the third consecutive race and gets weight from all but one rival here, the terms are in his favour. Adjusted ratings say there’s nothing to choose between him and Wholestone but, while that means he’s the main danger, our 2019 Relkeel Hurdle betting tips say side with the latter’s proven form at this track.

Midnight Shadow another to consider

Of those that remain, Old Guard looks very exposed, Thomas Campbell is arguably the worst off at the weights in relation to his rating and Cyrus Darius is 10. It leaves Scottish Champion Hurdle hero Midnight Shadow, who is the horse with the most scope for improvement in this field, as the only alternative.

This Sue Smith trained northern raider is now six, and has a win or place record over hurdles of 70 per cent. Midnight Shadow was only beaten 13 lengths in the Grade 1 Top Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree back in April, and is one of many from that race to have come out and won this season.

He also followed-up on that performance off the same mark of 134 by landing the ultra-competitive Grade 2 Scottish Champion, which is a handicap. After being ridden to lead by regular jockey Danny Cook just after three out, Midnight Shadow was driven in between the last two flights and found plenty for pressure to hold on and score by 1 1/4 lengths.

Although held a neck by Innocent Touch on reappearance at Wetherby, he was trying to give the winner 4lb. Midnight Shadow was then a disappointing 14th in the Greatwood here over 2m, but stepped up to this trip really nicely when landing another handicap at Aintree when staying on game fashion for a half-a-length victory over Ch’tibello.

This demands more, but many of those in opposition aren’t getting any younger and may be vulnerable to a young and still unexposed sort at this distance. Midnight Shadow fits the bill and is thus an each-way alternative from our 2019 Relkeel Hurdle betting tips if either Clyne or Wholestone fail to fire.

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