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Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle (Grade 1)
The Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle is a Grade 1 for novice hurdlers, run over two miles and five furlongs. Won recently by horses including Simonsig, The New One and Faugheen, it is often a stepping stone to the next year’s Champion Hurdle.
Our Neptune Novices’ Hurdle tip Neon Wolf will be looking to join the illustrious honour role of this race with Istabraq, Peddlars Cross, Simonsig, The New One, and Faugheen all scoring here before going on to bigger and better things
Purchased after winning a point to point in March 2016, Harry Fry’s six year old eased to victory on bumper debut back in December, travelling brilliantly throughout before going clear when asked by Noel Fehily to take charge. His next victory was another comfortable one, dispatching of his rivals with contempt at Exeter on New Year’s Day and confirming the promise he had shown in bumpers. It was however, his next victory at Haydock in the Grade 2 Supreme Trial where he stamped himself as a real contender, beating Elgin with contempt by a growing eight lengths. He looked the winner from a very, very early stage and the manner in which he drew clear was very impressive.
Judging by his point to point form and what he has shown thus far, going up in trip is only likely to bring out further improvement from him. Ground versatile with wins on better and softer ground, he looks the complete package for Fry, who is bidding for his first Neptune Novices’ Hurdle victory. He is likely to suit the strong galloping nature that Cheltenham will provide and any sort of improvement from that latest run would see him as a tough horse to beat.
The betting trends for the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle are as follows:
- 10 of the last 10 winners were aged either 5 or 6 years old
- 10 of the previous 10 winners placed on their last start before the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle, with 7 of them winners
- 9 of the last 10 winners had previously run in a National Hunt Flat race
- 8 of the last 10 winners had won over 2 miles 3 furlongs or further over hurdles already
- 7 of the previous 10 winners had 3 or more starts over hurdles
- Only 1 of the last 10 winners had Flat experience (Windsor Park who was also a bumper horse)
Willie Mullins is the only multiple winning trainer of this race in the last ten years, taking the prize in 2008, 2009, 2014 and 2016, and Ruby Walsh rode all four of Willie Mullins’s winners. Davy Russell has won this race twice – on First Lieutenant in 2011 and then in 2015 on Windsor Park.
Trends Analysis: Horses with experience over the Neptune distance of two miles three furlongs or further appear to dominate runnings, so looking for something with proven stamina is prudent. As usual. experience is important, while the number of previous NHF runners suggests a turn of foot is beneficial. Keep an eye on the Deloitte Novices’ Hurdle in February which can often be an important trial race.
If you want a “Who’s Who” of hurdlers, look no further than the winners of this race, with Istabraq, Peddlars Cross, Simonsig, The New One, and Faugheen all scoring here before going on to bigger and better things. Only time will tell if 2017 is a vintage year that produces such a high class hurdler for the future. Our Neptune Novices’ Hurdle in-depth preview can be found below, with our tip already listed above!
After dismantling a talented field in the Tolworth Hurdle, the highly touted Finian’s Oscar was always prominent in the ante post betting for the race. However, it was announced the week before the festival that he won’t take part in the race due to injury. He is unbeaten so far in his career so his absence certainly enhances the rest of the runners chances.
Unbeaten under rules for Harry Fry, Neon Wolf has rapidly built himself a big reputation for the year’s ahead. Purchased after winning a point to point, he won his bumper in brilliant fashion when drawing effortlessly clear in the fog at Uttoxeter in December. On hurdling debut, he comfortably won at Exeter as expected on New Year’s Day but it was his latest start at Haydock where he stamped his name into the Festival play book. Travelling powerfully and jumping well, he asserted approaching the last and drew clear in impressive fashion on the run in. Installed as the 5/1 second favourite, it is not hard to see why, remaining with any amount of potential and he looks a very high smart horse for the future. The extra distance is only likely to bring out further improvement from Fry’s six year old and he should suit the strong galloping test that Cheltenham will provide to him. He looks the all around package for this and his price is most certainly warranted.
Documented as one of our Dark Horses for the 2016/17 campaign, Messire Des Obeaux has gone from strength to strength this season. Dispatching the Champion Bumper winner Ballyandy at Sandown in a Grade 2 in December, he was an impressive winner of the Challow Hurdle at Newbury on his latest start. He is proving to be extremely progressive for Alan King and he is yet to find a challenge too difficult for him this season. He travels supremely well through his races and keeps up the gallop, giving his opponents no chance of battling back and he is currently a formidable force. Alan King is yet to win the Neptune Hurdle and his five-year-old by Saddler Maker will certainly give him a huge chance, with his stamina assured and a bold bid almost guaranteed.
Third in the Champion Bumper, going up in trip did wonders for Bacardys who ran his best race yet over hurdles when winning the Grade 1 Deloitte Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown. Clearly appreciating the extra distance, he has already proved that he suits Cheltenham and the extra distance is likely to bring out further improvement from WIllie Mullins’ six year old. A best priced 6/1 after that success, there seems to be a weight of expectation that he will again improve, and he certainly does have the potential to do so. Willie Mullins has sent some of his best here in recent year’s including Faugheen, and he looks to have another strong chance this year.
Along with our Neptune Novices’ Hurdle preview and tip, we have all our other Cheltenham Festival tips and previews online to view now!
Five-year-old Peddlers Cross took the 2010 renewal of the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle for trainer Donald McCain Jr. and jockey Jason Maguire.
Nine horses had real chances with five furlongs to travel and it was eventual second Reve De Sivola who usurped the long time leader at the head of the field with two to jump. Peddlers Cross got the better of the last and emerged the one-and-a-half length winner – that win would be the horse’s second victory of a seven race unbeaten streak.
First Lieutenant would get the better of Rock On Ruby by a short head a year later in what would be one of the closest finishes in the history of the race. Paul Nicholls’s runner-up tracked the Mouse Morris charge throughout, before battling hard to victory following the second from home
Nicky Henderson’s favourite Simonsig would secure the race in the following season for the Lambourn yard, a stunning victory in the 2012 Neptune Novices’ Hurdle that saw the grey seven lengths clear of Felix Yonger in a strung out field.
It was the turn of The New One in the 2013 renewal, the horse taking the plaudits in a small field of eight. In the opening stages the representative of Sam and Nigel Twiston-Davies settled in third, tracking both the favourite Pont Alexandre who was looking to make all and Ubak who ran just off the pace.
The New One raced upsides Taquin Du Seuil throughout, but fell behind this horse and a host of other rivals with lukewarm jumps over the third and second last. Despite this, Twiston-Davies pulled his charge wide and challenged the favourite just before the last. He would be followed through by Rule The World as he ran out the four length winner.
2014 was the year of Faugheen to win the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle impressively. The six-year-old grabbed Ruby Walsh’s third winner of this race in the colours of Rich Ricci. Walsh held Faugheen at the head of the main body of the field, with Cole Harden and Creepy setting the pace. Despite mistakes at four and three out, he took the league over the second last and won by four-and-a-half lengths.
It was no surprise to see Willie Mullins saddle the favourite for this race in 2015, with Nichols Canyon being sent off the 7/2 favourite, narrowly ahead of Willie Mullins’s second string Outlander at 4/1. They could only manage third and sixth respectively, though. Windsor Park won the race by over three lengths, left in splendid isolation by a terrible mistake by Nicky Henderson’s Vyta Du Roc at the last.
Willie Mullins became the top trainer for the race in 2016 when Yorkhill saw off the challenge of Yanworth in what was an absolute thriller. Sent off 3/1, he showed a lot of determination to hang on from the favourite, who was possibly given a poor ride by Barry Geraghty on the day, it has to be said. Take nothing away from the winner who returned at an SP of 3/1.
These are the declared horses for the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle in racecard order:
- Bon Papa
- Consul De Thaix
- De Dollar Man
- Keeper Hill
- Messire Des Obeaux
- Neon Wolf
- Poetic Rythm
- Willoughby Court
- Shattered Love