Closest Supreme danger to Douvan could be a familiar Festival face

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After the opening roar of the week has sent the runners of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle on their way, there’s a good chance we could be welcoming in some familiar colours back into the winner’s enclosure.

Rich and Susannah Ricci’s pink silks have adorned Ruby Walsh as he has partnered both Champagne Fever and Vautour to success in the last two years, and bids for a hat-trick with Douvan.

The opening shot of a potential Willie Mullins decimation on day one, their smart French recruit is two from two since joining the Closutton stable.

He has effortlessly swept past his opponents in his starts at Gowran Park and Punchestown, but did show that he has plenty in his locker when asked to quicken up in France.

With strong form ahead a couple of his opponents and the trainer’s habit of taking this race, he looks a worthy favourite.

But with no form on decent ground or any indication how he will cope with a real battle, could there better value elsewhere than taking the price available?

The only rival close in the market is Nicky Henderson’s L’Ami Serge.

Another that is unbeaten since crossing the Channel, he too has only run on a soft surface, so the likely better ground could well find him out.

His debut for his current trainer has been franked with second place Kilcooley going on to win the Grade 2 National Spirit Hurdle and third placed Violet Dancer taking the Betfair Hurdle recently.

His winning distances on his three UK outings have been, on average, further than Douvan’s so far, and the form is arguably stronger, so perhaps he is value at double the price.

Course form will be called into question a lot as the week goes on, and with four of the last five Supreme winners having at least placed in a bumper at Cheltenham, Douvan’s closest rival could come from a stablemate.

Runner-up in the Champion Bumper 12 months ago, SHANESHILL has done little wrong since going over hurdles.

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.