Cheltenham Festival Under the Radar – Disko can dance in Neptune

The Cheltenham hill is not the only ‘hill’ that will come into play in the latter stages of the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle at the Festival according to the market, with Bellshill (7/2), Yorkhill (7/1) and Barters Hill (10/1) the shortest priced trio available.

But with the latter likely to head to the Albert Bartlett and other two likely to be kept apart, it could be that there is plenty of value further down the betting.

Such value could come in the form of Disko, who finished three lengths behind the antepost favourite when they met in the Champion Bumper at the Punchestown Festival last year.

Noel Meade’s gelding is a 20/1 chance for success at the Festival, and with the form of that previous Grade 1 looking very strong, is worth chancing an each-way arm with.

Aside from the winner of that race going on to claim a Grade 1, Modus (third – now rated 139), Charbel (fourth – since placed in a Grade 2) and Altior (sixth – since won the Grade 2 Sharp Novices’ Hurdle) mean the grey’s second looks impressive.

Bellshill finished three lengths ahead of Disko over two miles at Punchestown

Bellshill finished three lengths ahead of Disko over two miles at Punchestown

His career over hurdles didn’t start as expected when he was beaten at odds-on in a race that his handler had down as a certainty.

Nevertheless, a step up to two-and-a-half miles and the addition of a hood worked wonders next time out when he dotted up at Naas in November.

No winner has yet come out of that race, but plenty have got closer in subsequent contests, to suggest that the five-year-old’s effortless victory has some merit to it.

The added distance was heralded by his handler as just what the gelding needed, suggesting that 20/1 available about him winning the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Festival looks a stretch.

The sort of trip that he will encounter in the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle looks perfect for the son of Martaline, whose progeny have thrived over between two-and-a-half and three miles.

His best three sons Very Wood, Dynaste and Le Vant D’Antan have all come alive over the intermediate trip and beyond, so there could be more to come yet from Disko over two-miles-five.

The former of that trio was Noel Meade’s last Cheltenham Festival winner, claiming the Albert Bartlett in 2014 and it appears these are the type of races the County Meath handler excels in.

He has had four winners at the March showpiece, all of them coming the novice hurdle events, Go Native and Sausalito Bay both taking the Supreme, while Nicanor landed the Royal & SunAlliance (now the Neptune) in 2006.

That targeting of these types of Festival events could be telling with the bumper week now just two months away.

Ryanair and Gigginstown House Stud supremo Michael O’Leary, who owns the horse, spoke last year of how Disko was a horse he was excited about and certainly “one to follow”.

It could be that he is worth following all the way to Cheltenham glory.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Ben Stones

Ladbrokes News’ equine expert, Ben likes nothing more than studying the form to pick out a winner or two for our readers. A Journalism and Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester, Ben has previously written for a number of football and racing blogs and websites, as well as contributing to the sports pages of his home-town newspaper.