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Irving and First Mohican on course to clash in Dovecote

Leading Supreme Novices’ Hurdle hopes Irving and First Mohican are among classy entries for the Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle at Kempton.

Irving is currently 8/1 second-favourite with Coral for the first race on the opening day of the Festival, with First Mohican rated a 12/1 chance.

Once a smart flat performer in Germany, Irving is a six-year-old trained by Paul Nicholls and is unbeaten in three runs over hurdles since joining the Ditcheat handler.

He has a good profile as far as his Cheltenham target is concerned in that nine out of the last 10 were aged five or six, and seven out of 10 had won a graded race.

The one big concern is that only one of the last 14 winners of the Supreme had run longer than 52 days prior to the race, and it will be 81 days without a run for Irving if he misses the Dovecote.

However, he went well in a recent workout and indications are that Irving will take his chance in the race on Saturday, February 21st, provided conditions are not too testing.

A run would be the final vital piece needed in his profile, but Irving looks sure to have his credentials tested to the full in the Dovecote by First Mohican.

The gelding was a smart sort on the level when trained by Lady Cecil, and won on his debut over hurdles at Doncaster for Alan King.

His owner Henry Ponsonby reports him to have come on significantly for the run and does not fear taking on Irving.

“First Mohican has come out of his win at Doncaster fantastically well and is a definite runner in the Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle,” he said.

“I thought he would win a bit more impressively than he did, but Alan tells me that he has come on a ton since then.

“I think First Mohican has got a tremendous chance on Saturday and, even if Irving runs, I’m not too concerned as First Mohican was a better horse on the Flat.

“Hopefully, after the Dovecote it will be on to Cheltenham for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.”