The Neptune Novice's Hurdle is a two mile five furlong Grade 1 contest run on the second day of the Cheltenham Festival. Dominated by the Irish in previous years, this year we have 6 sent over from Ireland from the 14 runners.
- The last 10 winners have all been aged 5 or 6.
- The last 10 winners in this race were at least placed on their previous start.
- 15 of the last 16 winners had a break between 2 weeks to 2 months before coming here.
- 19 of the last 22 win and place horses came from the top 4 in the betting.
Let's take a look at a few of the runners we feel have a chance.
An absolute monster and one of the most exciting horses he’s trained according to his trainer Harry Fry. Unbeaten under rules the step up to 2m5f seems sure to suit for a horse who will eventually be a 3 mile chaser. On At The races Harry Fry was full of praise for his 6 year old “To go out and put up a performance like that at Haydock, over a sharp two miles for a horse that's going to be a three-mile chaser, is like Noel Fehily said, something that he just shouldn't be doing.
From the home turn to the line it was hugely exciting and it had us dancing around the kitchen at home."
A strong gallop is very likely to suit and as long as the ground doesn't dry out too much I can see Neon Wolf being a very tough nut to crack.
Bacardys is currently the 2nd favourite for this race. Willie Mullins admitted he was a little surprised that he won the Deloitte Novice Hurdle. "I’m actually surprised he stayed on the way he did. He obviously doesn’t take a lot of training.”, Mullins told reporters.
It’ll be interesting to see how the 2nd in that race does in the Supreme on the 1st day of the Festival (Bunk Off Early)
3rd in the Champion Bumper behind Ballyandy last year, Bacardys stayed on well and there should be no concerns with him getting up the hill. Can he get the better of Neon Wolf though?
MESSIRE DES OBEAUX
Victorious in 3 of his 4 runs over hurdles this season, and there was no disgrace being beaten by a neck last time out to Keeper Hill when he gave the horse 8lb on a track that arguably didn’t suit.
Alan King is a big fan of this horse and expects him to go close in a race which should run to suit. "It was a long time from Newbury to Cheltenham, so I wanted wanted to get a run into him somewhere, It was a good performance and he’s come out of it extremely well. He’s a smashing horse and he will run very well.”
Stamina is a must for this race and Messire Des Obeaux has that in abundance, can Alan King claim his first ever win in the Neptune?
Ben Pauling's best chance of a winner at the festival, this horse is an incredible jumper and a great stayer. He won the Grade 2 Leamington Spa novice hurdle at Warwick last time out by 8 lengths and that form alone is as good as any in the race.
Just last week (8th March) Pauling said the following "He’s in the best form we've ever had him in and schooled very well this morning."
My only concern would be the drying ground, but if it remains good to soft then the 12/1 each way value looks decent.