Josses Hill likely to be Henderson’s main Supreme contender
Improving gelding looks stable number one as time runs out for one time ante-post favourite West Wizard Josses Hill now looks likely to be trainer Nicky Henderson’s main contender for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle after owner Dai Walters said the participation of one time ante-post favourite West Wizard was hanging in the balance.
Henderson has won the race twice, with River Ceiriog in 1986 and Flown in 1992, and has endured a frustrating bout of seconditis in the last three runnings with Spirit Son, Darlan and My Tent Or Yours all finding one too good on the day.
West Wizard was considered the one to go one better than that trio when running out an impressive winner on his bumper debut at Kempton.
However, he has not been seen in action since getting turned over at 1/6 on his hurdling debut at the same venue back in November where he finished a five length runner-up to Sgt Reckless and his owner feels time is running out for him to make the Supreme line-up.
Walters said: “I think West Wizard will have to have a run if he is going to go to Cheltenham. I don’t think it would be fair to take him otherwise.
“He’s a class horse, we think he’s going to be a top horse, but he has only just turned five and he’s only a baby.
“We need the weather to improve if we’re going to run him and if we’re going to run, we want it to be in a decent race. There is no point going and winning a £2,000 maiden hurdle at this stage of the year. If he’s not going to win a decent race, we might as well keep his novice status for next season.”
Despite his likely absence, Henderson has a really live contender in the shape of Josses Hill, who is a 12/1 chance with Coral.
The gelding joined the Seven Barrows handler after finishing a highly promising second of 22 to Faugheen on his debut in a bumper at Punchestown and after running out the easy winner of a bumper at Ascot, put in an impressive display to score first time up over hurdles at Newbury.
The six-year-old then went down by just 1/2 a length to stable companion Royal Boy in the Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle at Kempton on a track which didn’t play to his strengths and the form of that race look solid with the pair pulling 11 lengths clear of the third.
He looks the ideal type for this contest, and the galloping track and stiff finish look sure to play to his strengths.