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The Cheltenham Festival is just two weeks away, and the anticipation is building exponentially.
The opening day in particular is looking an absolute belter; The Arkle looks a terrific contest, The Champion Hurdle has the prospects of seeing the best horse in training strut his stuff, and the Mares’ Hurdle could be the toughest and highest class renewal we have seen of the race.
Skybet Supreme Novice Hurdle, Tuesday 14th March
At present, we have one of the most wide-open looking Supreme Novice Hurdles for a while, where you can pick apart the claims of pretty much everything, and as a consequence I wouldn’t want to be taking too-short-a price about anything. It looks more like being a Labaik or Ebaziyan year as opposed to seeing a megastar like Vautour or Constitution Hill.
So it’s the opener I am having a crack at, and the Olly Murphy trained CHASING FIRE is an unknown quantity who boasts an unbeaten profile. It could easily be the type of Supreme where it is all about what the horses haven’t done as opposed to what they have - it’s that type of equine Rubik’s Cube which means there is lots of potential value out there.
Chasing Fire has bolted up in all three starts over Hurdles, and whilst the collateral form doesn’t amount to a great deal, the manner in which he has gone about his business has been impressive. He is an imposing looking type who has travelled powerfully and quickened up to put all three races to bed, albeit at a minor level. In a wide-open year it isn’t hard to envisage him running a big race for a yard who have had a big uplift in form this calendar year. Olly Murphy went close in this race in 2019 when saddling the 2nd and 3rd in the 2019.
I can’t really back anything at single figures for this race given the perceived frailties of many of the market protagonists, and if I was looking for another possible string to the bow it would be the Willie Mullins trained DIVERGE.
He brings that total unknown portfolio to the table having romped home on the bridle at Punchestown in January, and as the possible Willie Mullins ‘third string’, he could easily make his presence felt and remains a very exciting type.
- Chasing Fire, Supreme Novices Hurdle, 1pt win 16/1 (BetUK)
- Diverge, Supreme Novices Hurdle, 1pt win 14/1 (bet365)
* Betting odds correct at the time of publication. All odds are subject to changes.
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