Cheltenham Festival 2015: Supreme Novices’ Hurdle preview (13:30)
L’Ami Serge has looked a potential superstar in winning all three of his starts since joining trainer Nicky Henderson, and can see off a strong Irish challenge to win the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (13:30) for the home team.
This gelding had some smart form to his name when trained in France by Guillalme Macaire, and could not have been more impressive when cruising home by six lengths in a Listed handicap hurdle at Newbury on his first start for Henderson.
The five-year-old travelled ominously well throughout, and won with any amount in hand despite flattening the last two flights.
L’Ami Serge looked to have a huge engine judged on that performance, and confirmed that impression when cruising to a facile seven length success over Killutagh Vic in a Grade 2 contest at Ascot.
The son of King’s Theatre then took the step up into Grade 1 company in his stride last time out when running out the facile 14 length winner of the Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown, where he again travelled strongly throughout before quickening clear in testing conditions.
His turn of foot on bottomless going marked him out as something very special, and L’ami Serge is a beautiful mover who should be just as effective, or even better, on better ground.
It’s impossible to pick holes in L’Ami Serge’s profile, and he can get the better of the highly touted Douvan to provide Henderson with his third winner of the 2m contest, following River Ceiriog (1986) and Flown (1992).
Douvan has notched two facile successes since joining champion Irish trainer Willie Mullins, and is favourite to give the County Carlow his third successive win in this opening race of the Festival.
The five-year-old was was an expensive French purchase who looked the real deal when bolting up on debut for Mullins at Gowran Park.
Douvan hammered Sizing John by 12 lengths, and the runner-up has since gone on to land a Grade 1 contest to give the form a very solid look.
The son of Walk In The Park followed up when winning a Grade 2 contest at Punchestown hard held by 3 3/4 lengths from Aplha Des Obeaux, and Douvan carries the same colours of owners owners Rich and Susannah Ricci, whose Vautour won the same race last year before going on to land this contest.
Douvan is the latest in a long line of Mullins’ horses to be dubbed a “machine” and, although he has the potential to be anything, his form is nowhere near as strong as that of L’Ami Serge, who has already proved himself in Grade 1 company.