The prestigious Cheltenham Festival gets underway with an interesting renewal of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, with a dual Grade 1 winner heading the market.
Appreciate It comes into this contest with strong form, winning all three of his starts over obstacles.
The seven-year-old hacked up the field in the Future Champions Novice Hurdle in December before landing the Chanelle Pharma Novice Hurdle at the Dublin Racing Festival last month.
Willie Mullins’ talent has clearly justified his claims for favouritism, and he is the one to beat here.
As much as Appreciate It has the race requirements of a strong level of traveling ability and stamina, it may be the ground that could cause an issue for him.
The gelding has yet to run a race on good ground, and with predictions stating those conditions for the Cheltenham Festival currently, he will need to acclimatize for this.
The Closutton trainer has nine entries remaining in this contest, with the likes of Blue Lord, Ganapathi and Micro Manage potentially lining up alongside the market favourite.
Ex-flat runner Metier has impressed since joining Harry Fry’s yard and is one of the two main threats to Mullins’ future star.
His 12-length success in the Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle caught the eye, but the validity of the form for that contest has been questioned in the last few weeks.
The other main challenger is Henry De Bromhead’s Ballyadam, who landed the Royal Bond Novice Hurdle at Down Royal in November.
The six-year-old has shown promise this season, but his jumping is a worry at times and he has finished behind Appreciate It twice in Grade 1 company.
But if the gelding can combat those issue, he could be a real threat to his Irish counterpart.
Arguably the season’s biggest improver, Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle winner Dreal Deal holds an entry for this contest, but trainer Ronan McNally is worried he may not make the Festival.
Dan Skelton still has faith in Third Time Lucki to perform at this level, and he could well be an each-way contender at the very least if the ground continues to dry up.
Joseph O’Brien’s Keskonrisk is another outsider that could outrun his price-tag, after finishing a strong third in the Future Champions Novice Hurdle behind Appreciate It.
The rest of the field possesses some talent, with Betfair Hurdle winner Soaring Glory, the unbeaten Bareback Jack and Noel Meade’s Thedevilscoachman all in the mix.
An intriguing field, but not the strongest of Supreme Novices’ Hurdle we have seen in recent years.
- Ballyadam E/W @ 7/1 (Various)
- Third Time Lucki E/W @ 33/1 NRNB (Bet365, Betfair + Paddy Power)
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