THE countdown to Cheltenham is well and truly underway and Graeme Johnston (@GraemeJ_83) gives us his Supreme Novices verdict.
Supreme Novices Hurdle | 15th March
The opening race of the Festival and it's recent history is dominated by Willie Mullins, Ruby Walsh and Rich Ricci. They have brought us the last three winners of this race and they bring us the favourite this year in the form of Min. He's unbeaten since joining the yard and looks good, but is he going to add his name to this list?
Min is trading at 13/8 to win this and given his connections he is bound to be a popular selection, however why is he so short? He has had two starts since joining Willie Mullins and has won both.
He already had a lofty reputation before he was seen on the race course and so far he hasn't disappointed, but at the prices he offers no value. Now he could well be the next one off the Mullins production line to win here but he meets rivals with Grade 1 form and for me he's a watching brief.
Altior from the Nicky Henderson stable has improved with every start and looks the best of the home team. Last time out he beat Min's stable mate in Open Eagle in good style, but I'm not sure how far up the Mullins pecking order he is.
That said he is unbeaten over hurdles and has winning course form so he has to be respected. However I'm not backing him as I feel there are others who are possibly less exposed who offer more value.
Beveur D'Air is another Henderson inmate but he is still inexperienced over hurdles. In his two starts he has yet to be fully extended and he certainly falls in to the “could be anything” bracket.
He is obviously hugely talented but I'm not sure if I want to take a chance on him at the prices. He fell short of the top level as a bumper horse and though he's improved since jumping I still think he needs more experience before he shows up in March.
The one I like here is the Mullins second string Yorkhill. Owned by the Wylies he is still unbeaten and in my opinion if he was owned by Rich Ricci he would be the current favourite.
He has had four career starts culminating in two bumper wins, a maiden win and a Grade 1 victory. He won the Torworth Hurdle in good style on awful ground and he travelled like the best horse in the race throughout.
Though it wasn't a vintage renewal it was a solid field and he looked like a horse on his way to the top. He seems to have a bit of pace about him and I have a feeling that better ground will suit him too.
He's still unexposed and any horse that wins a Grade 1 on his fourth start under rules has a huge future ahead of him. I'm backing him each way here at 8/1.
Supreme Novices Hurdle – Yorkhill each way (8/1 Bet365)
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