CHRIS Graham (@chrisgraham79) takes a look at the Day 2 opener. Can Neon Wolf live up to the hype?
Cheltenham 13:30 | Neptune Novices Hurdle | ITV1
It’s a cracking start to the Day 2 action as the young hurdlers take each other in the Neptune Novices Hurdle. This is a race that has produced some superstars in the past and there may be one lurking in the race on Wednesday.
Top of the bill is the exciting Neon Wolf. Trained by the similarly progressive Harry Fry, this six year old didn’t jump over a hurdle in public until New Years Day this year when he comfortably won by three lengths at Exeter.
From there he was sent to Haydock to take on the decent yardstick of Elgin. That proved no problem for him as he smashed him by nine lengths that day to leave us salivating.
Now this boy could be something special, but at this stage there’s nothing rock solid in the form book to suggest that. Elgin finished down the field in Tuesday’s Supreme Novices Hurdle and the fact Neon Wolf has run just twice over hurdles is a concern.
Bacardys for Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh is next in the betting and offers up more experience. He finished in the Champion Bumper at last season’s Festival and then won at Aintree under the same discipline.
He made an unspectacular start to his hurdling career but heaven knows why he was allowed to go off at 12/1 last month when winning the Grade 1 Deloitte.
He got the better of Bunk Off Early and Saturnas in that race and it’s what you’d be looking for coming into this race. The improvement he showed that day on previous runs indicates he could still be on an upward curve.
Because I like that piece of form I’m also keen on Brelade who is trained by the in-form Gordon Elliot. The five year old ran a cracker of a race to finish second to Saturnas at Leopardstown at Christmas and followed that with a third place finish behind Bacardys in February. Similar form but a much bigger price.
It’s a tough one for me this. Barcadys might just be another of those Mullins/Walsh Neptune stars that we’ve seen in the past but then again Neon Wolf might just be a superstar.
I’m going to go with experience and back Bacardys to win and have an each way suck on the underrated Brelade in what should be a superb Day 2 opener.