The Neptune Novices Hurdle regularly serves up Championship race winners of the future, with the likes of Istabraq, Hardy Eustace and Simonsig all triumphing to namedrop but a few.
And in the guise of his unbeaten Red Sherlock, trainer David Pipe may just have uncovered a Champion Hurdle or World Hurdle winner in the making, but firstly the five-year-old can take the first race of day two at Cheltenham.
Red Sherlock goes off at 7/2 and history tells us that being in the first five in the betting is a huge boost to claims, with nine of the last 10 winners setting off slimmer than 12/1.
This is also a horse bred purely to jump and jump he has. Three bumper victories in 2013 pricked the ears of would-be backers and when Red Sherlock made the step up to hurdles this season the Johnson-family owned gelding did not disappoint.
Three more successes from three starts followed to stoke the fires of expectation, where the most telling of those saw 7/1 Rathvinden bettered at Cheltenham in the Grade 2 Classic Novices Hurdle Race over a trip just shy of the 2m5f in January.
The ground was heavy that day and Tom Scudamore still found plenty in the tank when asking him to kick on up the stretch, so stamina is not an issue coming up the famous slope.
Punters should not be perturbed in respect of the ground firming up at Chelteham either as Red Sherlock’s jumps debut at Southwell saw him ease to victory when the going was good.
A whole host of other boxes have also been checked by this impressive chestnut on his debut National Hunt campaign.
Nine out the last ten Neptune winners were bred purely for jumps, had won over a trip of 2m4f or greater and had finished first or second in a Grade 1 or 2.
Meanwhile, five or six-year-olds have cleaned up in the Neptunes stretching back to French Holly way back in 1998, which is uncomfortable reading for would-be-backers of seven-year-old Royal Boy at 5/1.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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