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Cheltenham Update: Supreme Novices Hurdle

| 13.03.2017

Catch-up on the betting

We take a look at how things are shaping on day one of the Cheltenham Festival, with the curtain going up on Tuesday 14th March at Prestbury Park. Bet on the racing with peace of mind, as Coral are offering non-runner money back, meaning you can have a go at the early value.

We get off and running with the always-popular Supreme Novices Hurdle. Neon Wolf heads the betting with a week to go, and he is doing the rounds at 7/2 with Coral at present. Our traders have him as the most-likely winner of the race, but is that the way to play it?

Neon Wolf to light-up day one?

Harry Fry’s promising six-year-old gelding has caught the imagination of punters so far, and rolls into town with a CV reading three starts – three wins. He was last seen keeping hold of his 100 per cent record courtesy of victory in the Supreme Trial Rossington Main Novices’ Hurdle at Haydock in January, when going off as odds-on favourite.

He was backed like losing wasn’t an option that day, and certainly won in impressive fashion, with nearest rival Elgin traipsing home nine-lengths behind. Despite winning with plenty in hand, Neon Wolf was noted running away from them at the end, suggesting he was thoroughly enjoying the task at hand, and had plenty more to give. Backers will be eager to see that proven on day one.

Melon ridden by Ruby Walsh before winning the Donohue Marquees Maiden Hurdle during the BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle Day at Leopardstown Racecourse.

Melon looks a tasty alternative

If backing the shortest price runner in a race at Cheltenham isn’t your thing, we certainly wouldn’t argue against that. Trainer Willie Mullins has won this prize in three of the last four years, and he looks to hold a good hand again, with second-favourite Melon getting punters talking.

The five-year-old showed just what he was capable of when coming over from France to join Team Mullins, scooting up in the Donohue Marquees Maiden Hurdle over two-miles at Leopardstown at the tail-end of January, under the ride of Ruby Walsh.

With 10-lenghths the recorded winning distance that day, over a hard-working Broken Soul in second, odds compilers seemed to be in a rush to throw their weight behind him and Coral traders are keen on keeping Melon onside too. If that first showing was just the start of what he’s capable of – Walsh told reporters after the race that he didn’t push him too hard, despite the margin of victory – then we could have something special on our hands here.

It would be well worth a play to find out, and we are offering an appealing 4/1 in the current betting that he can carry his winning ways onto the big stage, and really announce his arrival.

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Daniel McKeown