The Grade 2 Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle at Punchestown has been priced up like a foregone conclusion, with Willie Mullins’ Douvan the X/X favourite.
His stablemate Tell Us More recently reminded us that there’s no such thing when going down to 33/1 stablemate McKinley at Naas.
Nonetheless it may be more interesting to take a watching brief, with a view to the ante-post betting for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
Douvan has been a long-time favourite for the 2m novice championship, but his lead at the top of the betting has been eroded away to a single point in the wake of L’Ami Serge’s commanding 17l victory over Jolly’s Cracked It at Ascot.
Mullins’ five-year-old remains a point shorter in the eyes of the Ladbrokes layers at 4/1, despite being far less experienced over hurdles than his chief Cheltenham rival.
The question is, how far does Douvan have to win by to justify his market advantage over Nicky Henderson’s gelding?
L’Ami Serge arrived for his most recent outing with a lofty Racing Post rating of 151, which only improved to 152 despite the manner of his success over the 138-rated second at Sandown.
Douvan already commands a Racing Post mark of 150 going into his second race under rules in Ireland.
Such a high mark is little surprise, given he hammered Sizing John by 12l on debut, with that one going on to score in Grade-1 company next time out.
No less than three of the five scheduled to take him on at Punchestown are superior to Jolly’s Cracked It based on the figures from the sport’s daily paper.
Alpha Obeaux, Marinero and Rock On The Moor are appraised at 149, 147 and 142 respectively.
As such Douvan won’t have to rout the field by 12 lengths to emulate the level of form shown by L’Ami Serge if his main rivals run to form.
Instead a victory by a margin in the region of 2-3l may be enough to for him to join the Simon Munir-owned son of Kings Theatre on a Racing Post rating of 153.
What’s more he would be doing so having experienced one less race since moving from France and five races less overall.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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