Course winner Seedling a lively outsider
Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, 2m110y Old Course (due off 1.30pm)
Douvan has had the bookmakers running scared for months and victory for Willie Mullins’ charge could have some firms staring over the edge of a cliff with the prospect of worse to come – Mullins is also responsible for Un De Sceaux, Faugheen, Annie Power and Don Poli, all first-day favourites and, given their short odds, many punters will be combing them in trebles and accumulators.
As for Douvan, he’s done nothing wrong in winning both his starts since coming over from France, slamming a future Grade 1 winner in Sizing John when scoring at Gowran Park in November. He heads to Cheltenham with a ringing endorsement from his trainer, who has won three of the last ten renewals, including the last twice. Top price: 7/4 Paddy Power
Who else is fancied?
Layers will take some comfort from recent results with last year’s hero Vautour the first market leader to oblige in ten years, and one horse who might come to their rescue is L’Ami Serge, a classy recruit from France who has rattled off a hat-trick of wins this winter, including the Grade 1 Tolworth last time. That’s arguably the best form on offer, although all his wins have come on soft ground (yet to race with the word “good” in the going description).
Jollyallan looked the part when winning his first three starts before finding Garde La Victoire too good at Sandown last time. He could improve for better ground (looking likely) and will again be ridden by a certain AP McCoy. Mullins has a solid second string in Shaneshill, who finished second in last year’s Champion Bumper and is better than he showed at Navan where he was turned over at odds-on. He goes well fresh and is another who will love the drying ground.
Any decent outsiders?
We’ve had 20/1 and 40/1 winners in the last 10 years (along with four others at double-figure odds) and recent Newbury winner Qewy could provide a mini-shock. He was classy on the flat (rated 102) and looked to have transferred some of that ability to hurdles given the ease of his six-length success. Soft ground may be important for him.
Cheltenham form is worth it’s weight in gold and Seedling recorded a career-best when landing a hat-trick of wins at the track in December, with a couple of subsequent winners Some Plan and Padge in behind. He hasn’t raced since but his trainer is sounding quietly confident.
Trainer quote: “I think he has all the attributes for the Supreme as he travels well, stays very well a decent and has a turn of foot.” – Warren Greatrex on Seedling.
Best bookie offer
Paddy Power will refund all losing single stakes on the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle as a free bet (up to £50) if Douvan wins.
Douvan could be anything but he faces a different track, different ground and much stronger opposition that he’s used to. For that reason, he’s worth opposing at short odds and SEEDLING is put up as a value each-way alternative. The above offer makes backing him with Paddy Power a no-brainer. Shaneshill is another who can outrun his odds.
Seedling each-way @ 22/1 Paddy Power