Willie Mullins came within a Briar Hill fall of landing the Supreme, Neptune and Albert Bartlett Novices’ hurdles at last year’s Cheltenham Festival, so naturally the County Carlow handler’s horses are all the rage in these events ahead of this March’s jamboree.
Nobody, apart from probably Mullins, has fully got to grips with who’ll go where yet though, judging by the markets at least, meaning there’s money to be made from chasing up a few leads.
Douvan is favourite in the Supreme Novices and the Neptune at 4/1 and 7/1, and his profile closely parallels Vautour, last year’s winner of the former.
Both had a couple of runs in France, under the same jockey in Bertrand Lestrade, with Douvan a comfortable victor in his second outing after being runner-up first time out, while Vautour finished second on both occasions.
Indeed, Douvan is expected out at the weekend in the Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle at Punchestown, which would mean practically mirroring Vautour’s preparations from last year, both having made their Irish debuts in early winter before tackling this race.
If he takes it, the Supreme Novices’ favourite will surely be wrapped in cotton wool in preparation for Cheltenham’s opener, and therefore tumble out of the betting for the Neptune.
Douvan became favourite purely through Tell Us More’s failure to see off stablemate McKinley at Naas, with the beaten horse back at 10/1 alongside another of Mullins’ cadre, Shaneshill.
It stands to reason that Tell Us More and Shaneshill should both be shorter for the 2m5f race, simply because Douvan looks nailed on to go for the 2m event on Tuesday, so getting on at least one of them, and maybe 20/1 stablemate Sempre Medici, makes sense at the odds.
Of the three, Tell Us More has provoked the most murmurs within Irish racing circles and hardly lost lustre in a three-quarter-of-a-length defeat on only his second start under rules; Mullins described the six-year-old’s jumping as ‘fantastic’.
At 10/1, the value has come for Tell Us More in the Neptune.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
Fancy a flutter? Sign up today to claim up to £25 in free bets.