Before starting at look at the Novice chases & hurdle races on Festival Wednesday, let's have a quick update on last Saturday's blog. The Supreme Novices Hurdle betting has moved a bit with Marine Nationale solid at 5/1 despite not running - he benefitted from the performance of the horse he beat on 04Dec. That was Champ Kiely, who improved considerably for the step-up in trip to 2m4f, and dominated Irish Point who was 2nd in the 04Dec race) in the process. With Champ Kiely being yet another from the Mullins stable, it's difficult to see any other trainer winning the "Supreme" this March. I fully expect Mullins to have at least 2 in the race on the day, and joining Facile Vega will likely be Impaire Et Passe who has an entry this Sunday at Punchestown in a Grade 2 over 2-miles. I'm tempted to take the 12/1 offered by Bet365 as if he wins well on Sunday he will likely shorten to 4/1. Paul Nicholls sent Tahmuras to win the "Tolworth" at Sandown last Saturday, but the manner of his win suggests he may prefer the 2m5f "Ballymore" although connections appear to favour the "Supreme" which, if the ground was soft, would be perfect for him. In the Arkle, the Mullins-trained Appreciate It won very easily last Sunday; so easily that it is difficult to estimate just how good he is. As such, I'm still of the opinion that stablemate El Fabiolo is the most likely "1st string" for Mullins in this race, ahead of Appreciate It and Dysart Dynamo. My other advised wager in this race is Mighty Potter, and he's now 33/1 with Skybet.
Festival Wednesday opens with the Ballymore Novices Hurdle over 2m5f, and this is one of the more prestigious novice races at the Festival. The betting is currently headed by the Paul Nicholls trained Hermes Allen who is unbeaten in 3 races to date, and probably would be fav for the 3-mile "Albert Bartlett" if guaranteed to run. The big mover is Champ Kiely who won a Grade 1 last Sunday beating Irish Point: that looked a very strong performance as Irish Point chased him all the way to the line. The negative for me is that he's a 7yo, and I think he could do better over 3-miles. Mullins also has Gaelic Warrior who holds a lot of entries after a facile win LTO; however he was only just beaten at Cheltenham last March in the Juvenile H'cap hurdle, so he ticks a few boxes. As above, I think Impaire Et Passe will go for the "Supreme" and not this race (as will Facile Vega). As such, as I wrote last week, we come to the lightly raced Inthepocket, who looks destined to run in this race but we need to see him run again before the Festival. Finally, there's another unbeaten horse who has done everything asked of him, and that's Marine Nationale. He beat Irish Point LTO with Champ Keily in 4th - will he run in the Ballymore or the Supreme? There is 25/1 being offered by Skybet and that's worth a small wager.
The 2nd race on the Wednesday card is the "Broadway" Novice Chase over an extended 3-miles. Which Irish-trained horses go for this race depends on the outcome of the Grade 1 Novice Chase at Leopardstown run on 5th Feb. Personally, I think the current fav - Gaillard Du Mesnil - is there to taken on; he was 3rd in this race last year as a 6yo and I don't think he's improved since then. Gerri Colombe is more likely to go for the NH Chase over 3m6f on the opening day, it may pay to hang on and see if he runs at Leopardstown in early February. For me, the horse that should be the clear fav is Thyme Hill: he's done nothing wrong in his racing career over hurdles and fences and is absolutely top-drawer. Both Bet365 and Skybet offer 8/1 (Hills are 7/1 NRNB) and considering the performance of his win LTO and that he handles Cheltenham and is being aimed at this race, taking 7/1 NRNB is a no-brainer to me. With doubts over the target race for both of the other Mullins fancied horses, Classic Getaway and James Du Berlais, Thyme Hill has to be the strongest selection yet for the Cheltenham Festival.
At the time of completing this blog (Sunday morning 15th Jan) the 12/1 on Impaire Et Passe for the "Supreme" Hurdle has gone, and the best odds available are 10/1 with Coral & Ladbrokes.
Total Staked to Date: £35