No More Heroes announced himself as the new 7/1 favourite for the Albert Bartlett at the Cheltenham Festival with victory in the Navan Novice Hurdle.
The victory over Willie Mullins-trained odds-on shot Shaneshill was the second he has recorded over a rival in the top six of the ante-post betting for the March assignment.
Gordon Elliot’s five-year-old had previously downed another Closutton inmate Milsean (currently 14/1 for the Albert Bartlett) in a Naas bumper in February this year.
However, downing Shaneshill, winner of the 2014 Punchestown Champion Bumper and second in the Cheltenham equivalent, in a race that wasn’t run to suit was a career best.
No More Heroes had looked every inch the stayer after winning a 2m4f Leopardstown bumper by 39l last December.
Yet at Navan he scored off the kind of stop-start gallop that should suit speedier foes, overhauling the aforementioned 2m Grade 1 winner after being headed on the run-in.
Barry Geraghty was in the plate for that success and was quick to offer punters a handy clue as to the five-year-old’s planned festival assignment, telling reporters:
“(Gordon) Elliott knows what he’s got and is already thinking about the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle over three miles at Cheltenham.”
Labrokes’ 7/1 about No More Heroes may seem like a far better price than it seems initially after the illusory nature of the market is considered.
A certain Mister W. Mullins trains four of the next five in the current shake-up, meaning several will be elsewhere come festival Friday.
While it has been suggested that the Gigginstown Stud representative will need give in the ground to be seen at his best at Prestbury Park his Navan victory was came on yielding-to-soft going – the least testing ground he has yet to encounter under rules.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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