Only twice in the last 20 years has the going been soft on day one of the Festival. However, according to course clerk Simon Claisse, when the Supreme Novice’s Hurdle kicks off on Tuesday this looks likely to be the case for the first time since 2007.
And there seems to be some striking similarities between that race and this, notably regarding the favourites.
Nicky Henderson’s My Tent Or Yours, currently at 11/8, heads the market this year after an excellent Grade 3 win at Newbury against an experienced and high quality field.
However, the Seven Barrows stable also provided the favourite back in 2007.
Amaretto Rose, fresh from an 18 length Grade 2 win at Haydock, was sent off at 2/1 only to find a Willie Mullins 40/1 shot too good on the day and the Irish Champion Trainer will be confident of causing an upset again this time.
Mullins, who also won this race in 1995 when the going was soft, has an extremely strong hand this year, with four runners holding entries for the Festival opener, arguably of which the strongest is Un Atout, currently at 7/1.
The unbeaten Gigginstown five-year-old has only ever run on very testing ground and so far has dispatched all competition with ease. However, his victories have come so easily, it is difficult to know just how good he is.
For those looking for Festival form, 2012 Champion Bumper winner Champagne Fever, currently 10/1, also holds an entry but is only one from three over hurdles, though those races have come against extremely strong competition.
Both Mullins’ previous victors have gone off at a double figure price and it is Mozoltof at 20/1 who provides the value this time. Also unbeaten over the timber, the seven-year-old has been impressive in Ireland, recently seeing off the highly-thought of Don Cossack at Punchestown.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.