Frazzled previews the Supreme Novices hurdle and he is backing against Min with Silver Concorde and Buveur Dair.
The curtain raiser for the festival has become a pink and green monopoly for the past three years and it has been one that we have shared in on the first two of those 3 triumphs. Champagne Fever was a strong each way selection in 2013, Vautour was a horse we had recommended from before the Deloitte in 2014, although in 2015 a wager on Tell Us More without the favourite really looks about as sensible as those that backed Un Atout against Champagne Fever in 2013.
This year Min flies the flag for the Mullins / Ricci team and you would nearly have to stand outside a local GA meeting to find someone in Ireland that does not claim to hold a valuable ante post voucher on him (those members may also be on the moneytrain, but will not admit it as loudly) on prices that range from 20/1 to 50/1.
Min did not show much in France but was with a trainer that generally takes a patient approach with his horses and he quickly left that form behind him when under the care of Mullins. He was impressive when beating Gurteen at Punchestown in December and he followed the Douvan path when easily winning the Moscow Flyer last time. He has been off for 2 months like last year’s winner and will be primed for this, but there is still something about him that puts us off. It is very likely to be the lack of a voucher burning a hole in our virtual wallet, but we will try and get this jolly beaten. The form looks pretty good, but in getting the run of the race on both occasions and beating rivals that would not be mapped in this race, he does still need to improve on this from. He has never raced on good/soft ground before either (although his action suggests it will not be a problem), or being involved in any sort of battle in either race and he just does not appeal as a short price favourite.
The proviso here is that he is drifting all the time from a ridiculous 11/8 – 6/4 and at something around the 11/4 mark, it is hard to dismiss him out of hand.
The next two in the market are both Nicky Henderson horses and this is a little reminiscent of when Sprinter Sacre and Spirit Son took on Cue Card. Altior is the strongest in the market at a best price of 9/2 and is the highest rated horse in the field. However he came up short twice last year in top class bumpers and until his last time out Kempton win, he had not really impressed over hurdles. He tended to need a bit of driving to come away from his rivals at Cheltenham after being all out to beat Ch’tibello the time before that. He was impressive last time when winning by 13 lengths, but was driven along at the top of the straight at Kempton and that is a worry here. He strikes us as a horse that could be tapped for pace and then stay on again up the hill to sneak a place, but might lack the gears to win this.
Buveur D’Air is the preferred of the Henderson runners as he looks a proper 2 miler and he has plenty of boot. He also was beaten in two top class bumpers last season, but showed plenty of gears in them and he has looked a speed horse on both starts over hurdles. He also has a fluent hurdling technique if you forgive the sloppy jump at the last at Huntingdon last time out and that should allow him to travel well in this contest. He can hopefully get a toe into the race and could have the speed to win it in the closing stages.
The other horse of real interest here is Silver Concorde and he has to be backed at the prices. He simply needs decent ground and was an impressive winner of the bumper here two years ago when he travelled very well and quickened to win cosily when asked by Robbie McNamara. He is a maiden over hurdles since then after two runs last season and then a last time out 2nd to Supasundae at Leopardstown over Christmas. That was on very bad ground and he travelled well until a little before the last when he was not persevered with. He is better judged on his impressive in the November handicap at the same venue (in October!) when he quickened smartly through horse to win off a mark of 91. He strikes us as a horse that will improve a ton for being back at this venue on decent ground off a strong pace and he is worth an interest at 16/1 and 9/1 (without Min).
0.5 points each way Silver Concorde at 9/1 (without Min) with BetVictor and Bet365
0.5 points each way Silver Concorde at 16/1 with Coral and William Hill
1 point each way Buveur Dair at 7/1 with William Hill and Betfred