History does not make good reading for big Irish Cheltenham banker

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On an almost annual basis the Irish pile into one of their own in the opening race of the Cheltenham Festival, but in recent years this strategy has dramatically backfired.

All of the last eight favourites have been beaten in the Supreme Novices Hurdle, dating back to Brave Inca in 2004.

Of these, five have been sent across the water from Ireland, including four since 2008.

Dunguib was the major failure when backed into 4/5 in 2010, but Cousin Vinny was another expensive loser, with Galileo’s Choice the latest to fail to justify the market support.

However, this run of results seems unlikely to deter the Irish from providing another strong favourite, with Jezki currently 4/1.

On paper, this seems more than a fair price as the five-year-old is well experienced having had four starts over hurdles and this includes two Grade One successes.

The latter at Leopardstown was especially impressive as he looked to have plenty left in the tank, but Dunguib and Cue Card were similarly as dominant in their preparations for the Supreme Novices and failed to deliver on the day.

One piece of good news is that the Irish have won more than half of the last 11 Supreme Novices renewals despite the disappointments of the majority of their favourites.

There is little doubt that Jezki is the best of the Irish novice 2m hurdlers and he is likely to be a serious challenger at the Festival, especially if the ground is not overly soft.

He also appears one of the big Irish bankers, alongside Quevega, given the strength of the opposition to Hurricane Fly in the Champion Hurdle and the doubts over which race Flemenstar will tackle.

For the doubter anticipating another Irish favourite flop, the British charge is led by River Maigue and Puffin Billy, who can both be backed at 8/1.

All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date

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Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.