Cheltenham - At The Races

14:10 Cheltenham 14 Mar 2019

Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) (Class 1) (5YO plus)

Winner £56,270 - 24 ran

2

2m 7f 213y

Good to Soft (soft in places)

View Course Guide

Weighed In

Gary Nutting
by Gary Nutting

Published 1st March

FIRST ASSIGNMENT looks to have as good a chance as his odds suggest as one of the market leaders for the Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle.

Ian Williams’s progressive six-year-old goes into the race with a similar profile to that of 2017 runner-up Barney Dwan, who had the misfortune to bump into none other than Presenting Percy.

The last-named of course went on to win the RSA Chase 12 months ago and is set to return as clear favourite for the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup in his Festival hat-trick bid.

Barney Dwan announced his arrival on a bigger stage when landing the EBF novice hurdle final at Sandown - a race in which First Assignment finished a promising third in last year’s renewal.

The selection reappeared to win successive handicaps at Cheltenham this autumn, gaining valuable course experience in the process, and then finished a close third to Sun Racing Stayers’ Hurdle favourite Paisley Park at Haydock.

Stamina is clearly not an issue either, so he ticks plenty of boxes with age, profile and pedigree suggesting scope for further improvement in a strongly-run three miles on a track where he’s unbeaten.

Although a beaten favourite on that occasion, it was probably an even better effort than it now appears given Williams had warned the seven-day gap between races was hardly ideal for a horse who is ‘not robust’, though understandably he took his chance under a 5lb penalty as waiting would have meant a bigger weights rise.

Now rated 142 (7lb higher than Haydock), the gelding finished third again at Warwick last time - effectively job done as it was a qualifier for this final without resulting in a further increase in his handicap mark.

The timing means First Assignment will return to Cheltenham after a two-month break, which should prove ideal in light of the aforementioned trainer comments, and he won’t mind what the weather does, seemingly fully effective on good and soft ground.

Stamina is clearly not an issue either, so he ticks plenty of boxes with age, profile and pedigree suggesting scope for further improvement in a strongly-run three miles on a track where he’s unbeaten.

Gary's Recommended Bet (scale 1-5 points):

PERTEMPS NETWORK FINAL HANDICAP HURDLE (Thursday 14th March)

1pt win FIRST ASSIGNMENT (10-1 general – use Non Runner No Bet firms)

Gary provides regular ante-post updates on Twitter. His username is @horsetraderinfo

Previous Winners
Year Going Ran Winner Draw Age Weight OR Form Last run Trainer (Distance) Jockey SP Time
2018 Soft 23 Delta Work 5 10 10 139 133243 22 days G Elliott D N Russell 6/1 6:09.20
2017 Good 24 Presenting Percy 6 11 11 146 411541 19 days P G Kelly D N Russell 11/1 5:49.30
2016 Good 24 Mall Dini 6 10 11 139 631433 26 days P G Kelly D N Russell 14/1 5:49.10
2015 Good 23 Call The Cops 6 10 12 133 1421-41 12 days N Henderson (51 miles) A Tinkler 9/1 5:41.20
2014 Good 23 Fingal Bay 8 11 12 148 1212R-1 32 days P Hobbs (90 miles) R Johnson 9/2 5:49.50
2013 Good to Soft 24 Holywell 6 11 4 140 31-2222 61 days Jonjo O'Neill (1 miles) R McLernon 25/1 5:59.90
2012 Good 24 Cape Tribulation 8 10 11 142 2-5P504 26 days J M Jefferson (194 miles) D O'Regan 14/1 5:44.00
2011 Good 23 Buena Vista 10 10 8 138 728700 61 days D Pipe (100 miles) C O'Farrell 20/1 5:40.00
2010 Good to Soft 24 Buena Vista 9 10 4 133 62-8508 48 days D Pipe (100 miles) H Frost 16/1 5:49.00
2009 Good to Soft 22 Kayf Aramis 7 10 5 129 426211 20 days Miss V Williams (39 miles) A Coleman 16/1 6:02.70