What's the best bet for the Supreme Hurdle?
13:30 Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, 2m1/2f Old Course
Last year’s 1-2-3: Douvan (2/1 f), Shaneshill, Sizing John – 12 ran.
Barring an injury (God forbid!), the Willie Mullins-trained Min will carry the hopes and not inconsiderable weight of money laid down by ante post punters some of which was placed before the ex-French five-year-old even set a foot on the racecourse – or so the bookies would have us believe. Yes, the dogs have been barking this horse’s name for a good while and it’s a case of so far good after a couple of bloodless victories, both at Punchestown. Clearly, he has an engine, can jump and scarily for his rivals he’s expected to improve for better ground. The first of Mullins battalions to go to war, he’ll be the first leg of many an acca bet and bookmakers will be desperate to get him beat. Top price: 7/4 Betfair.
Who else is fancied?
Their best hopes appear to lie with the Nicky Henderson-trained pair of Altior and Buveur D’Air, who have rattled up six victories over hurdles between them this winter and get 4/1 and 7/1 quotes respectively from bet365. The former has earned himself a bigger reputation at this stage after impressively completing a four-timer in an Ascot Grade 2 last time and he also has that all-important Cheltenham form in the book, having won there at the Paddy Power meeting. However, if you’re thinking of backing either an each-way investment is advised as the stable simply can’t saddle a Supreme winner for toffee these days, with Henderson’s losing streak going back to Flown in 1992. Now that’s many years of frustration and there have been plenty of near misses with some star names who arrived with even loftier reputations than Altior.
And the rest?
Mullins could be mob-handed with the likes of Yorkhill, Bleu Et Rouge and Long Dog waiting in the wings, though most have alternative engagements and it’s hard to be dogmatic over who is going to turn up at this stage. Gordon Elliott has said that Tombstone will go for the Supreme and, having been second twice at Grade 1 level this season, he has each-way possibilities. And so has Henry de Bromhead’s Supasundae, who finished sixth in last season’s Champion Bumper (led until just over 1f out) and slammed Silver Concorde by 13 lengths at Leopardstown in December. Moon Racer, the winner of the Champion Bumper, could yet make the gig but it’s a big ask of him to win this on his hurdles debut.
Trainer quote: I don’t think he’s as good as [last year’s winner] Douvan, and it’s hard to think he might be as good as [the 2014 winner] Vautour, though I hope he is. He looks very decent, but until after Cheltenham we won’t know. He’s a lovely horse at home, and fine in the parade ring, but he seems to take a really good grip when they start to race. I’d imagine that there will be a lot more pace at Cheltenham than his last race, so hopefully he will just blend in. I don’t think it will be a problem.” – Willie Mullins on Min.
Best bookie offer?
Paddy Power are refunding losing stakes on horses that finish second in any race at the Festival as a free bet up to £25. That’s decent but they’ve been trumped by Sky Bet, at least for this particular race, as they are refunding stakes (again as a free bet up to £25) on ALL losing bets in the festival opener. The majority of firms are going NRNB (non-runner no-bet) and a couple – bet365 and Sky Bet – are Best Odds Guaranteed.
What’s the verdict?
But I’m inclined to take him in any case as he’s priced up on potential rather than substance and Mullins’ comments suggest he might get lit up beforehand and then fail to settle.. Besides, the Sky Bet offer means we can bet against him knowing we will get our money back as a free bet. The temptation is to side with one of the Henderson runners and given he’s struggling to split them at home, it is logical to go with Buveur D’Air, who is nearly double the price of his stablemate.
However, I’m going to take a punt on SUPERSUNDAE at even bigger odds. A smart performer, who let’s not forget beat Yanworth (odds-on for the Neptune) at Ascot on his second start in that sphere, he has not looked a natural in two runs over hurdles so far but warmed to his task last time (quite slick over the final mile) and is the type who will appreciate better ground and a stronger pace. His jockey Johnny Burke is sounding quite bullish on his chances.
SELECTION: Supasundae each-way @ 16/1 Sky Bet NRNB BOG