Supreme Novices Hurdle, Cheltenham Festival 2012 Day One
The JP McManus owned Darlan heads the market at odds of 5/1 for the William Hill Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in the race that will kick-off this seasons Cheltenham Festival. The well-bred youngster was last seen when taking an almighty tumble in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury when running all over his rivals from the front.
Steps to Freedom and Cinders and Ashes also look to be popular in a race known more for its roar than recent winners.
It seems as though that fall hasn’t stopped the plunge of money coming in for the young Darlan though, as he has been steadily backed throughout the week to give trainer Nicky Henderson his first Supreme winner since 1992, when Flown landed the odds for the legendary trainer.
Darlan’s price has come in from 8/1 to around the 4/1 mark with most firms, mostly triggered by JP McManus rating the horse as his best Festival runner this season. When he talks, punters seem to listen. If this market support continues it’s likely the favourite could go off a very skinny price indeed.
This season’s renewal is far from a one horse race though and there will be plenty of punters taking on Darlan with one of the many challengers lurking behind him in the market.
The horse seemingly favoured second with the punters is the Irish raider Step To Freedom, who despite not being seen since winning at Cheltenham in November has been the subject of glowing stable reports from his trainer Jessica Harrington. You can currently get around 7/1 on his chances.
Cinders and Ashes is next up in the market for Donald McCain at around 8/1 and although not seen in Pattern company over hurdles yet, the manner of which he has won his prep races looks to put him right in the mix.
McCain certainly knows how to win a novice hurdle, with success with Peddlers Cross two years earlier, and Cinders and Ashes is sure to see plenty of supoort.
Galileos Choice (8/1) will be looking to end a 21-year barren spell at Cheltenham for trainer Dermot Weld whilst other leading contenders include the Henderson second-string Tetlami (14/1) and recent Newbury winner Montbazon (10/1).
This race certainly looks wide open and recent favourites of the Supreme Novices Hurdle, Cue Card, Dunguib and Cousin Vinny have failed to bring home the money for punters, so a shrewd selection is most probably the best call.