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Jer’s Girl has the credentials to Spring a Juvenile Hurdle surprise

| 03.02.2016

Taking on one of the strongest antepost favourites at the Cheltenham Festival may seem like a risky proposition, but with Ivanovich Gorbatov set to be sent off at 1/2 for his run in the Spring Juvenile Hurdle, there has to be better value out there.

The Joseph O’Brien trained gelding has been slashed in from 12/1 to 11/4 for the Triumph Hurdle since his maiden win over the obstacles in December, without even stepping on to a racecourse.

The hype machine and visual impression he gave off that day at Leopardstown were striking, but little has come out of that victory as yet.

Instead, it might be worth taking the much healthier odds of 8/1 for Jer’s Girl to bring down the jollies colours in his Festival prep on Saturday.

Like Ivanovich Gorbatov, Gavin Cromwell’s filly previously raced on the flat, something that looks vital for Saturday’s race.

You have to go back to 2001 for the last time the winner of the Grade 1 contest hadn’t raced on the level before embarking on a career over hurdles, so having the requisite speed between the jumps is key.

Two solid enough performances, without winning, over 1m2f at Sligo and Navan preceded two wide-margin successes over the timber at the back-end of last year.

The second of those came in a Listed contest at Aintree, where Richard Johnson was able to ease down his mount to a 10-length triumph.

Stepped up to Graded company next time out, the daughter of Jeremy attempted to make all in the Knight Frank Juvenile Hurdle under Robbie Power.

In front right until the last, a less than fluent jump handed the initiative to Apple’s Jade who got up to agonisingly deny the game front-runner success.

A better leap would probably have secured victory for Jer’s Girl, but take nothing away from her, it was an excellent and hardy performance.

If getting the lead and being able to dictate things at the Dublin track again, she looks an excellent each-way bet.

He trainer has stated that he wants more rain to help turn things in her favourite, and with precipitation forecast on Friday afternoon, he may get his wish, with the already-soft ground set to turn testing indeed.

The stable are in flying form this season, operating at a none-too-shabby 27 per cent strike-rate over the obstacles, with over half of their runners this term finishing in the first three.

That sort of return makes it a no brainer to give Jer’s Girl another chance to confirm her Graded status and potentially burst the bubble around one of the hottest antepost propositions around.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Ben Stones

Ladbrokes News’ equine expert, Ben likes nothing more than studying the form to pick out a winner or two for our readers. A Journalism and Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester, Ben has previously written for a number of football and racing blogs and websites, as well as contributing to the sports pages of his home-town newspaper.