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Nicky Henderson has an abundance of riches in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle with both Constitution Hill and Jonbon and it’s the latter of the two who has caught punters’ imaginations despite being a longer price.
A very expensive purchase at £570,000, JP McManus’s potential superstar has so far lived up to his hefty price tag and is unbeaten after five outings, including a point and a bumper.
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He was unleashed over hurdles at Newbury in November, when he was impressive in outgunning Good Risk At All by six lengths and he then took a step up in class in his stride in a Grade 2 novices’ hurdle at Ascot in December, when he was eased to beat Colonel Mustard by two and three-quarter lengths.
Some pundits crabbed his victory last time in another Grade 2 novice at Haydock, but he was still a comfortable three-length winner on his first encounter with soft ground.
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Despite not winning yet this season, telmesomethinggirl has been very popular for the Mare’s Hurdle with punters seemingly hoping that she can reproduce the kind of form that saw her land last season’s mares’ novices’ hurdle at the festival by five and a half lengths.
Connections were probably then disappointed when she could only muster a fifth in a Grade 1 novice hurdle at Punchestown, but in retrospect that was probably a very good race as it was won by leading Turners Novices’ Chase fancy Galopin Des Champs.
She then finished fifth on her seasonal bow behind Dysart Diamond in a Listed mares’ hurdle at Punchestown in November.
She was last seen when only beaten a length and a quarter in a Grade 3 mares’ hurdle at Leopardstown over Christmas, an effort that can be upgraded as she was a bit short of room approaching the final obstacle.
The Wednesday will be an emotional day as dual Grand National hero Tiger Roll retires after his bid to land the Glenfarclas Chase for fourth time and punters have really got stuck into him for his swansong.
A close perusal of his form this season doesn’t exactly fill one with confidence as he never traveled in a Grade 2 at Aintree in December before finishing nearer last than first in a handicap hurdle at Navan the following month.
However, the unique make-up of this race means that he’s an absolute monster over these unique fences and in addition to his three wins, he also found only Easysland too powerful two years’ ago.
Gigginstown’s superstar has been the subject of very positive reports from Gordon Elliott in the last few days and apparently with decent ground at Prestbury Park, which seems a given, he’ll be very difficult to beat indeed.
Carlow conjuror Willie Mullins has won this event an incredible 11 times and the way Easy Vega has been supported indicates that punters clearly believe it will be a dozen soon.
Despite never being seen in public, someone clearly thought that he is above average as he was a furiously-backed odds-on favorite in a bumper at Leopardstown over Christmas and he didn’t let his fans down when beating 15 rivals by six lengths.
If that was good, he was even more impressive when going up in class in a Grade 2 bumper at the Dublin Racing Festival last month, when coming home 12 lengths ahead of Sandor Clegane.
The champion bumper is a tricky race to have a firm opinion on given that these are young horses improving at a rapid rate of knots, but given the money it’ll be a bit of a surprise if he’s not there or thereabouts.
Langer Dan was a comfortable winner of last year’s Paddy Power Imperial Cup at Sandown before he caught a tartar in this race when finishing second to the mighty Galopin Des Champs (already mentioned above) in this.
After almost a year off, he made his only appearance this season last month at Taunton, where he was last of six.
It’s probably not worth taking that effort at face value as it was likely designed to blow away a few cobwebs and was over an extended two miles, roughly half a mile shorter than this race in which he put in his best ever performance.
He actually dropped a few pounds after the Somerset blow-out and he’s only 2lb higher in the ratings than in 2021 with the likelihood he won’t encounter an animal of that caliber this time.