NAP of the Day: Henderson has Kelso’s feature Under Control

 | March 01 | 

2 mins read

Owen McMahon's NAP of the Day

My attention this Saturday is on the seven-race card at Kelso - specifically the Morebattle Hurdle at 14:50 - where a Nicky Henderson-trained mare who I strongly believe to be well-handicapped rates the NAP of the Day.

NAP of the Day

  • 14:50 Kelso - Under Control @ 10/3

I've been on weather-watch for the last few days, praying it stays dry at the Scottish border, for I give Under Control an outstanding chance of winning the Morebattle - a lucrative handicap hurdle over two miles - granted decent ground.

Nicky Henderson's five-year-old is currently Betfred's 10/3 favourite to land the 18-runner affair, which is the first leg of a £100,000 bonus for taking this and any race at the 2024 Cheltenham Festival, and I wouldn't be surprised were she to go off a good bit shorter.

I think this is a very well-handicapped horse. Multiple formlines suggest as much - none more so than her narrow beating of stablemate Iberico Lord in another valuable handicap at Sandown in April last year.

As a four-year-old filly, she beat the then 120-rated five-year-old gelding off level weights and in decent style too. The margin of victory suggests it was a lot tougher than I'm suggesting, but jockey Nico De Boinville was still motionless on Under Control approaching the second-last where she made a bit of a mistake and ultimately it was her fourth run in under two months, so she was entitled to get a bit tired late on.

Iberico Lord is now rated 143 having won the Greatwood at Cheltenham back in November and the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury last month, which goes a long way to explaining why I think this mare has plenty in hand.

She reappeared this season and was all the rage for the Gerry Fielden at Newbury - a race Nicky likes to use for his better mares - but things didn't go to plan. They did for 90% of the contest, but after easing into contention and looking like the winner, she jumped two out and instantly faded. Too bad to be true. Forget it.

One wind op and 56 days later, she went to Doncaster for the Grade 2 Yorkshire Rose Mares' Hurdle and finished a solid second to the brilliant Ashroe Diamond, who was rated six pounds superior. That was much more like it.

I'm hoping she can now kick on and, off just a pound higher than when runner-up at 'Donny', I'd like to think that winning a handicap like this - which despite the money on offer lacks depth - is well within her capabilities.

Under Control to win the 14.50 Kelso at 10-3

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