Six go to post in an intriguing race (at the top of the market at least) as we look to get a better picture of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle picture, see our betting tips and the full race preview below.
IN SUMMARY: An impressive winner on debut, Lough Derg Spirit is not out of this by any stretch but his latest effort at Ascot in December seemed to suggest he needs further and he may just be caught out by the finishing speed of PETER THE MAYO MAN. Winner of three races on the bounce for Neil Mulholland, his seven year old has been mightily impressive and highly progressive, with his latest effort Newbury a taking performance. He should have too much speed on the flat for the aforementioned rival and can continue this brilliant sequence with Noel Fehily on board to do the steering.
1 PETER THE MAYO MAN – Has now won three races on the bounce by a cumulative 29 lengths, showing an impressive turn of foot at Newbury when last seen in November to win by eleven lengths, and he wasn’t hard pushed to do so (2m, Good). All of those wins came on good ground so today’s conditions will be perfect and if he continues this very progressive sequence he should be hard to beat today for Neil Mulholland and Noel Fehily, with his flat speed likely to be to much for his nearest market rival.
2 HIGH SECRET – Rated 95 on the turf when with Sir Mark Prescott and transferred that ability over obstacles after returning from over a year off to win at Taunton in January (2m, Good). Was a ready winner that day and there is no telling how good he good he could be for Paul Nicholls, which makes him an intriguing runner. Likely to need more against harder opposition but he should have come on leaps and bounds from that experience and needs a second look today.
3 LONDON PRIZE – Rated 75 on the flat which gives him 20lb to find with High Secret, though he was a good winner at Leicester on his second hurdling start in December (1m 7f, Good). Fell four out at Market Rasen yesterday in a good handicap but still likely to need more today if he’s to be challenging the market principles. Seems an unlikely winner and others have more pressing claims.
4 LOUGH DERG SPIRIT – Made most on hurdling debut at Kempton in November in a taking performance (2m, Soft) where he jumped brilliantly throughout and kept on strongly. The softer conditions likely suited him that day as it brought out his stamina and he looked very one paced in a Grade 2 at Ascot in December, never able to get into top gear (1m 7f, Good to Soft). Today’s good conditions will suit again and he’s likely to run a big race as that fourth in Grade 2 company isn’t to be scoffed at, though he would be better suited by further distances as his point to point form indicates and is likely to be tapped for speed on the flat again Peter The Mayo Man.
5 OPTIMA PETAMUS – 33/1 and well beaten when third here on hurdling debut in January (1m 7f, Good), which doesn’t read well in the context of this race. Rated 68 on the flat, he will need an enormous jolt of progress if he is to finish anywhere near the market principles today. Impossible to recommend.
6 STIPULATE – 100 rated on the flat at his best and wasn’t disgraced on hurdling debut when fourth here in November (1m 7f, Good), and was going well on his latest start over the same C&D in January when an awful mistake ended all chance of victory. Likely to need much more if he’s to feature today although his flat form certainly does bring him into the equation, with the Brian Ellison yard going well at present. Hard to envisage him placing without the front two under performing, but he does look one of the likelier candidates to pick up the pieces if they do so.