Cheltenham 2016 – Neptune Novices Hurdle Preview

Cheltenham 2016 - Neptune Novices Hurdle Preview and CeeBee thinks that the Willie Mullins trained Long Dog can land this at big odds current available.

The Neptune Hurdle betting market isn’t as developed as other Festival Grade 1s. As such it presents us with a betting opportunity. As I look at it I see a market that’s 20/1 bar 3.

Bellshill 7/2

Yanworth 8/1

Long Dog 16/1

20/1 bar

One of Bellshill or Yorkhill will probably, although not definitely, go for the Supreme hurdle. Willie may feel Min is unbeatable and try persuade Wylie to run both in this, but it’s unlikely that will occur as Willie has more than just these 2.

It sounds like both Barters Hill and Shantou Village are more likely to run in the Albert Bartlett than Neptune. Results on Trials Day (Shantou Village v Yanworth likely) and/or soft ground in March may change that but as it stands I’m lead to believe connections are leaning towards the 3miler.

Tombstone is Supreme bound; a free going sort with a turn of foot is unlikely to step up in trip.

Yanworth is a likely runner, but it’s far from set in stone. Yet to race beyond 2miles and not lacking speed it would be no surprise to see him re-routed to the Supreme if he fails to get home over 2m5f on Trials Day. His price has contracted recently after being tipped by Paul Kealy in the Racing post.

Bellshill is plenty short for what he has achieved. He was only 2 from 5 in bumpers last season. His defeat at Cheltenham raised question marks over his potential to handle the undulating track. His defeat at Aintree came behind Barters Hill who really should have found 2m at Aintree far too sharp.

He’ll face Tombstone (amongst others) in the Deloitte on Feb 6th. I really rate Tombstone and suspect Bellshill could drift were he defeated, or even win but do so unimpressively. There’s even a small argument that were Bellshill to get beat that Ruby might ride Long Dog. Bellshill is also arguably more suited to the Supreme test than Yorkhill is. I certainly wouldn’t be taking 7/2 at this stage!

Long Dog is perhaps the most likely runner towards the head of the market. There is no question mark over the trip; he has won over 2m4f and 2m5f and his last two wins at 2m suggested a step up in trip would suit. Rich Ricci also owning Supreme Hurdle favourite Min helps settle the issue. The Albert Bartlett has not been ruled out but with Willie having Up For Review and potentially Thomas Hobson for that, it seems unlikely Long Dog would be asked to take the big step up from 2m to 3m.

Long Dog’s form is terrific. There’s no real way to knock it. 6 from 7 over hurdles. A dual Grade 1 winner, both coming over arguably his wrong trip (2m). Behind him the last day at Leopardstown were some really smart horses. Tombstone could win the Supreme in my opinion. Petit Mouchair was unbeaten until that day. Falcon Crest, a G2 winner, was easily put in his place as was Tully East who brought plenty of experience to the table.

Two miles around Fairyhouse is fairly sharp but in the Royal Bond this fella had enough of an engine to hold off Bachasson who would’ve been suited by that test. The rest were well beaten. Nicholls Canyon won that race last year and the comparisons are similar – both were multiple G1 winning novices who didn’t get the credit they deserved as others are more ‘hyped horses’ in the Mullins yard.

He has proven he stays 2m5f, handles good ground and has plenty of experience. You can’t knock him. At 16/1 in race that’s probably going to cut up drastically over the coming weeks? Yes please.

Then we get down to the 20/1+ lot. Petit Mouchoir and Disko are both in Gigginstown colours so it is unlikely both will run here. The former could be an ideal type for the County hurdle, strong traveller with the pace for 2m but stays further. The latter is quite smart and flying a little under the radar. As a 4yo having only his 2nd start he split Bellshill and Modus in the Irish Champion Bumper. The problem with Disko is the Albert Bartlett has also been mentioned and he’s a similar price for that so would be a very risky ante-post proposition.

None of: Altior, Min, Forgotten Rules, Limini or Buveur D’Air will run in this. Bachasson too looks more of a Supreme type. Thomas Hobson should probably go down the Albert Bartlett route but regardless he doesn’t jump well enough to win at this level. Open Eagle doesn’t stay this trip (I like his handicap mark back over 2m). Modus is more of a 2miler also.

North Hill Harvey has a bit to prove yet. He won a fairly soft novice hurdle at the December meeting. Anibale Fly was well put in his place by Bellshill last time. Champers on Ice is a likely runner but his form doesn’t amount to a whole lot. All out to beat fairly average sorts the last twice.

There are question marks over the Festival target for each and every one of the top 6 (even top 9 excluding Tombstone maybe) listed in the betting here. So it is risky. No doubt. But you can be certain that all 6 of them won’t turn up. 3 or 4 most likely. I think Long Dog is highly likely to and has arguably the best form of the lot. 16/1 is an each way bet.

Advised Bet:

1.5 points each way Long Dog at 16/1 with Coral (note Ladbrokes are also 16/1 but 1/5 the odds 3 places)