Trainer Oliver Sherwood has issued an upbeat assessment of the heel injury sustained by Deputy Dan, his Neptune Management Investment Novices’ Hurdle winner at Warwick.
However, following another eventful weekend of racing, it’s the row between Paul Nicholls and stable jockey Daryl Jacob that’s made headlines.
Jacob’s refusal to ride four-time World Hurdle winner Big Buck’s at this year’s festival prompted Nicholls to book Sam Twiston-Davies for the ride instead with the pressure of preserving an 18-race unbeaten streak cited as one of the reasons behind Jacob’s decision.
Big Buck’s remains the 7/4 favourite with sponsors Ladbrokes to secure another astonishing victory, although stablemate Saphir Du Rheu has emerged as a 12/1 contender following his weekend score in the Lanzarote Hurdle at Kempton.
On the same afternoon, Deputy Dan was sprinting clear of the rest to record a nine-length win in the winter sunshine with that performance in the Midlands laying down a marker to his rivals.
Tolworth victor Royal Boy is another chance who’s been priced up for the Neptune.
And having shown he can last the trip when victorious at Ascot just before Christmas, handler Nicky Henderson may decide to enter the 16/1 shot for the 2m5f event.
Meanwhile, Josses Hill secured an eye-catching one-two for the champion trainer after finishing as the narrow runner-up behind Royal Boy at Sandown with the margin of defeat just half a length.
Following that result, Henderson was quoted as saying: “I thought about running Royal Boy at Warwick in the two and a half (mile race) but I thought that would be an awful slog and he’s not a slow horse.
“I think you’d go two and a half at Cheltenham with him whereas Josses Hill is more of a two-miler.”
Given that assessment, the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle could well be a target for Josses Hill.
And having looked so impressive after making such a giant leap in class the 16/1 about his chances for that race represents cracking value.
Finally, Captain Chris returned to form for Phillip Hobbs at favoured track Kempton with a resounding 23-length victory over Champion Court.
His Gold Cup odds were halved from 50/1 to 25/1 following that successful seasonal reappearance.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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