Ruby Walsh may have picked to ride Champagne Fever from the Willie Mullins’ yard in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, but he has got it wrong before and may be in line to get it wrong again in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.
Walsh also had the choice between fellow Mullins entrant Un Atout and Paul Nicholls’ Dodging Bullets, but his preference for last year’s Champion Bumper winner has seen his price shorten to 6/1.
Un Atout is 7/1 and given the way he has swatted aside everything to be put in front of him this season, the best still looks to be yet to come.
The big negatives against him are his inexperience given that he has only had two hurdles starts and the fact he has been off the track since mid-January, but both his victories have arrived on bottomless ground and a soft surface can be expected at Cheltenham.
Furthermore, given that the Supreme Novices’ only has 12 runners this year, which is less than normal, any doubts over whether he is streetwise enough for such a rough and tumble race now don’t look as important.
There is a strong likelihood that Un Atout will come off the bridle for the first time, but 7/1 is fine each-way value that he finishes in the first three.
My Tent Or Yours has been well-backed since his Betfair Hurdle win and is now as short as 6/4 for victory.
Regardless of how impressive he was at Newbury, the Festival opener has been a graveyard for favourites, especially those to have been heavily backed, such as Dunguib and Cue Card.
Meanwhile, the majority of his form to date has been on flat tracks, which is a slight worry, alongside an interesting statistic that none of the last 51 horses to run in the Supreme that had not contested a novice hurdle in their final start have all been beaten.
The soft ground will bring into play Champagne Fever’s stamina, but he may still not be fast enough, while Jezki (9/2) would have preferred good ground, ran below par at Cheltenham last year in the Bumper and still has not totally proved his jumping is of a good enough level.
River Maigue is another that shouldn’t be discounted each-way at 12/1 given that both of his defeats have come in races where things have started slowly and turned into a sprint. Things should unfold differently here.
Ladbrokes are also refunding any losing stakes as a free bet should your horse come second in the Supreme Novices’ by a distance of a length or less.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.