Worth of Pont Alexandre form to be placed under the magnifying glass
Pont Alexandre’s dominant wins in Ireland have been easy on the eye, but his vanquished foes have done little to advertise the strength of the form since. The New One has already duelled with some top novices and looks a more reliable option.
The market has been a fine guide to Neptune winners in recent years with 11 of the last 12 places filled by runners from the first five in the betting.
Over the past five years Willie Mullins has emerged as a trainer to take exceedingly seriously in this race with two winners and two placed runners from just seven runners in that period and it’s under his tutelage that Neptune jolly Pont Alexandre has stamped his authority on the Irish novice staying hurdles division this term.
Pont Alexandre has beaten seven previous winners out of sight in Grade 1 and 2 action this season, but with none of them scoring since the worth of his visually impressive wins must be taken on trust.
The same cannot be said for the New One, whose three-way dance with unbeaten-this-season Coneygree and At Fishers Cross was a who’s who of the best staying novice hurdlers on this side of the Irish Sea.
Nigel Twiston Davies’ gelding was collared by the latter as the line hove into view on that occasion, with his jockey blaming himself for getting to the front too soon on what was very heavy going.
The New One had the pace to beat My Tent or yours in the Aintree Champion Bumper last term, so it can be expected that he should improve vastly on ground better than heavy.
Sadly a bug in his trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies’ yard has already done for the Festival chances of The Cockney Mackem, Imperial Commander and Astracad, so a note of caution must be sounded. However, head-lad Richard “Sparky” Bevis gave an upbeat assessment of his charge after gallops today, stating “To put minds at rest, The New One worked very well today an is firmly on target for the Neptune.”
Furthermore he’s a paid up Cheltenham aficionado with three wins and a second from five runs at Prestbury Park – the only unplaced effort coming when a highly creditable seventh in the Champion Bumper at last year’s festival.
Taquin du Seuil is another from towards the head of the betting with plenty of speed, with his sole loss in a five race career a narrow loss to My Tent Or Yours over 2m.
A comfortable winner on both starts over 2m4f, the form of his last run was boosted when Easter Day whom he beat nine lengths into second, was a four length winner next time out.