Betfair Stayers’ Handicap Hurdle betting tips: First Assignment the Haydock ace in the pack

Horsebetting.com experts give their Betfair Stayers’ Handicap Hurdle betting tips for the 3m Grade 3 contest on Betfair Chase day at Haydock on Saturday, 24 November. The thriving First Assignment looks thrown-in at the weights under a penalty and a worthy favourite to land the spoils. Captain Cattistock shaped with plenty of promise on seasonal debut and, so is feared most now stepped up in trip by in-from handler Paul Nicholls. Theo’s Charm, meanwhile, has posted some solid efforts at the Merseyside venue and appeals each-way. Read our in-depth 2018 Betfair Stayers’ Handicap Hurdle betting tips preview for more details on these horses’ chances.

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Odds
6/4
Selection
Firs Assignment
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Odds
6/1
Danger
Captain Cattistock
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Odds
12/1
E/W
Theo's Charm
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Hat-trick beckons for First Assignment in Haydock Stayers’ event

The thriving First Assignment looks thrown-in at the weights under a penalty and a worthy red-hot favourite to land the spoils in the valuable 3m Grade 3 Betfair Stayers’ Handicap Hurdle at Haydock on Saturday (13:25). This Ian Williams trained five-year-old has won three of his six starts over the obstacles and taken his form to a new level this season.

After showing a willing attitude to dig deep for pressure and beat Vive Le Roi by a short-head in a competitive 20-runner affair over 2m 5f at Cheltenham, landing a gamble in the processes, the son of Vinnie Roe made light of a 5lb rise in the weights when bolting up by nine lengths over 3m at the same venue seven days ago.

First Assignment travelled strongly and jumped well on the heels of the leaders, before being produced to take up the running two from home under a confident Tom O’Brien. He then drew effortlessly clear and, despite being carried left by a loose horse at the last, barely had to break sweat to beat Boyhood.

The gelding won with consummate ease and made a total mockery of his handicap mark of 130. First Assignment is due to go up 13lb for that facile success, so it’s no surprise that his shrewd connections have decided to turn him out quickly under a 5lb penalty. It means that he is officially 8lb well-in at the weights and a potential handicap blot.

First Assignment is also the least exposed in the line-up and open to bags more further progress for a yard going great guns at present. His is also versatile as regards underfoot conditions and Williams says that he has come out of his latest run in “terrific shape”.

With the in-form O’Brien once again in the saddle, he looks to have everything going for him in this and is impossible to oppose. Thus we had no hesitation in making First Assignment the main selection in our 2018 Betfair Stayers’ Handicap Hurdle betting tips and he is fully expected to land the hat-trick en route to even better things.

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Captain Cattistock feared most

Captain Cattistock shaped with plenty of promise on seasonal reappearance and is a fascinating contender now stepped up in trip by in-from handler Paul Nicholls. The five-year-old progressed throughout last season when winning three of his six starts and was very impressive on the last of those.

That came over 2m 5f at Wincanton where he made all and cruised clear to easily beat the then 132-rated Run To Milan by six lengths, with the pair pulling a further 16 lengths clear of the third home. It was a most taking display, and Captain Cattistock went on to round off the campaign with a fine fourth of 14 to Diese Des Bieffes in a warm class 2 novice contest at Cheltenham off an official rating of 135 when arguably an unlucky loser.

After tracking the leaders, the son of Black Sam Bellamy was produced to throw down a strong challenge after the second last. He held every chance and was going as well as anything approaching the last, but then made a bad mistake which stopped him in his tracks. It knocked all the stuffing out of him, so it was to his credit that he then stuck to the task well to be beaten just 4 1/4 lengths.

Captain Cattistock was allotted on opening handicap nark of 138 on the back of that effort, and ran really well off it at Chepstow last month when sixth of 16 to Garo De Juilly in the Grade 3 Silver Trophy over an extended 2m 1f. After being unable to quicken two from home, he ran on strongly in the final 75 yards to be beaten 3 3/4 lengths.

It was highly promising comeback over an inadequate trip and this stamina test should be far more up Captain Cattistock’s street. So, off an unchanged mark, and the benefit of that outing under his belt, a big run looks on the cards and he therefore rates the main danger to First Assignment.

Theo’s Charm the each-way option

Of those at bigger odds, Theo’s Charm looks nicely treated on the pick of his form, so makes plenty of each-way appeal at a track he runs well. This Nick Gifford trained eight-year-old has run four times at the Merseyside venue and made the frame on each occasion.

They include when staying on well to finish a 22-length third of 16 to the ultra-progressive San Spinner in this contest 12 months ago off a mark of 137. Theo’s Charm also ran well over 2m 5f here off the same rating when beaten just a neck by Tommy Rapper, and was far from disgraced when a 17 3/4 lengths 11th of 23 to Delta Work in the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle Final at the Cheltenham Festival back in March off 138.

He now returns to action off a reduced rating of 135 and that gives him every chance from a handicapping perspective of making his presence felt in this. Theo’s Charm also has a decent record fresh and it’s interesting that Daryl Jacob, who partnered him for the first time in this last year, is now back in the plate.

So, taking everything into account, Theo’s Charm looks capable of outrunning his odds and making the frame. That’s why he features as the each-way punt and completes our 2018 Betfair Stayer’s Handicap Hurdle betting tips.

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