First Lieutenant has been confirmed to run in the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle and given the fact that he is a Grade One winner, he may be a worthy each-way contender at 12/1 to land the spoils.
Until now trainer Mouse Morris had been unsure of which Cheltenham Festival race to plump for, also entering his six-year-old into the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle over two miles and the three-mile Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle.
However, he finally decided that the 2m5f of the Neptune best suits his horse.
Morris said: “I’m thinking the ground will be goodish and that should suit him being by Presenting.
“He’s a horse I haven’t had any major hiccups with, and that’s a bonus.”
First Lieutenant had endured a modest first three races to the season before springing to life at the Christmas meeting at Leopardstown with a somewhat unexpected victory on heavy ground.
Going off at 16/1 in a five-runner race, First Lieutenant was all out to beat odds-on favourite Zaidpour by a neck, with Hidden Cyclone just behind in third.
What is interesting about this form is that Zaidpour has gone on to finish second in another hot Grade One contest since, while Hidden Cyclone has further boosted First Lieutenant’s credentials with a win in Grade Two company.
Although First Lieutenant will have to run over a slightly longer distance in the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle, a repeat of his Leopardstown run should certainly ensure that at worst he finishes in the first three at Cheltenham.
Bob’s Worth is currently the favourite in the Cheltenham betting to win in the Neptune at 5/1, with Al Ferov also a lively each-way contender at 14/1 if he can make subtle improvements to his jumping.
A £25 stake on First Lieutenant winning the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle would return £300. New customers can sign up here for a free £25 bet.