Cheltenham: Parlour Games should be favourite for the Neptune

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Another day at the Cheltenham Festival, another Willie Mullins favourite in the opener.

But should Nichols Canyon be as short as he is for the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle? In this writer’s opinion, no he should not.

Flying to the top of the market after a victory in the Deloitte Novices Hurdle Nichols Canyon ensured the Closutton stable had another jolly at Prestbury Park.

Yes, his win was impressive, but well-touted favourite Alisio Ville was too free and ensured AP McCoy had no chance of success while the pair of Windsor Park and Silver Concorde were left with a fair bit to do before staying on late.

That victory was his first win at further than the bare 2m, and he still yet to even run at this 2m5f trip, let alone win at it.

Soft ground looks his ideal surface, so the drying ground won’t be perfect and he simply looks too short.

The horse he beat into second last time out Windsor Park has come in for a bit of support, but is perhaps an even more ludicrous price at 4/1 having won no more than a maiden.

Outlander had everything fall right for him at Leopardstown in late January but was impressive nonetheless, however we are looking closer to home.

Two from two over the longer distances PARLOUR GAMES looks to have it all in the book.

Last off the bridle in his most recent two starts John Ferguson’s charge has won impressive in much differing fashions.

Over the Neptune course and distance back in November he jumped the last on the bridle, and when asked to quicken by Barry Geraghty the response was taking.

The turn of foot displayed was just electrifying and could be vital in putting that space between himself and the rest of the pack in the latter stages.

But he is not just a speed horse.

Again, travelling much the best late on in the Challow Hurdle at Newbury, this time it was Noel Fehily who asked for a response to go and take the race from the pair of horses ahead of him.

That time round he bumped into Vyto Du Roc who looks a real battler.

The six-year-old got his head down and really threw it all at the reopposing Nicky Henderson horse to get the better of him by a neck.

The fact that he was sent off as 6/1 fourth-favourite of six in that race, despite his Cheltenham success previously, could signal that this horse is one that is continued to be underestimated.

All things told, the Irish may dominate quantity at the top of the Neptune market, but the Brits could hold the quality bet for the race.

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.