CLUED up Graeme Johnston (@GraemeJ_83) shares his expert take on the first race of the day on Wednesday, the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle.
Neptune Novices’ Hurdle | Wednesday 13.30 | Channel 4
A 2-mile 5-furlong Grade 1 novice hurdle and it looks like a match according to the betting.
Yanworth and Yorkhill lead the way in the market and on all known form, they are the two most likely winners here, with A Toi Phil leading the supporting cast.
Starting with A Toi Phil, he’s a talented young horse who has won his last two starts, most notably a Leopardstown Grade 2 in good style. Though the first two in the market have won more established trials for this race, he is no back number and comes here with a live chance.
A Toi Phil ran out of the course in his first start for Willie Mullins however, since then he has looked very professional and comes here with a real chance. But I think he meets two rivals destined for the very top and will struggle to win.
Yanworth was a revelation last time out turning a Grade 2 at today’s course in to a precession. It was very soft ground that day and I’m not sure how many of his rivals enjoyed the conditions, which possibly flattered the winner.
Without doubt Yanworth is a class act, and is yet to come off the bridle over obstacles and Alan King views him as one of the best he has trained.
If you look at the horses Yanworth has beaten, it’s an impressive bunch. Shantou Village, Charbal and La Prezien haven’t been able to live with him and all are proven horses.
He could well be anything and after taking on Annie Power yesterday I can’t believe what I’m doing but I’m taking this fella on too. As good as he is he’s taking on another youngster who has an equally impressive record coming in to this.
I backed Yorkhill to win the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle ante-post and unfortunately he was aimed at this instead – I can see why as he will relish the extra distance. But it doesn’t mean I’m not annoyed!
Yorkhill’s only had four career starts for the all-conquering Willie Mullins yard and comes here unbeaten. Two wins in bumpers saw him switched to hurdles and he won his maiden rather effortlessly.
Yorkhill was then stepped up to Grade 1 level where he won the Torworth Hurdle – he travelled supremely well throughout and won well in the end on ground softer than ideal for him. That form has been boosted since with O O Seven winning at Musselburgh and Agrapart easily winning the Betfair Hurdle.
To me, the Torworth Hurdle has a slightly stronger look to the form on offer than Yanworth’s last win and as the slightly less exposed horse, I’m siding with Yorkhill in what promises to be one of the races of the meeting.
Neptune Novices’ Hurdle – Yorkhill to win (5/2 Ladbrokes)
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