I've been going on about Mark Foley's race profiles for days now and I wish I could share them all with you, but I cant.
What I do have is his Supreme Novices Hurdle Trends and his selection 🙂
1.30pm – Supreme Novices Hurdle – Grade 1 – 2m
Montbazon 8/1 with William Hill.
Don’t look for a shock, the market has been a pretty good guide with all of the winners in the past 15 years coming from the first 6 in the market; having said that the favourites somewhat puzzlingly had a poor record.
Runners aged Five and six have dominated, also runners rated less than 136 don’t look classy enough to win this; along the same lines every winner since 1997 had won at least one of their last 3 races and being a championship race they invariably won LTO.
Experience counts and every winner during the past 15 years had raced at least 6 times and all but one had the benefit of a run within the last 90 days to hone their fitness.
My shortlist using the above criteria is:
Steps to Freedom, Cinders and Ashes, Trifolium, Galileo’s Choice and Montbazon.
Trifolium would need to improve again to win this and all of his form is on Soft and Heavy ground. The going has often been Good to Soft on the opening day following the introduction of a watering policy a few years ago, but it looks like Good ground today. The fact that 11 of Trifolium’s 13 races have been run on Soft or Heavy ground is a huge concern, especially in such a high class race.
Cinders and Ashes, was a doubt for this race, as connections were considering sending him straight to Aintree, a course they feel will suit the horse better than Cheltenham. That fact alone is off putting and like Trifolium all the wins over obstacles have come on Soft or heavy ground. His only pattern win came in the Grade 2 Supreme trial at Haydock on heavy ground against only two rivals; the runner up has since been beaten by just under 40 lengths in the Totesport at Newbury. Cinders and Ashes faces a totally different quality of opposition today on a course that his connections feel may not suit him ideally and ground that may not suit.
There was a lot to like about the way Steps to Freedom won here in November and he could be a threat to Montbazon. However, the fact that he last raced over 120 days ago is a big concern. All but 2 of the winners in the past 15 years were returning from a break of less than 45 days and if we look at the record of runners returning from a break of more than 45 days during the same period only 2 of the 63 runners won. It’s hardly as if they were out with the washing either, 6 of them went off as favourites and they were all beaten. His last race was at Cheltenham in November and the horse he just beat, Prospect Wells has since had his limitations exposed at this level.
Darlan is the early favourite, but fell last time out and runners in Hurdles races at the festival who fell last time out have a poor record; his excellent trainer also has a surprisingly poor 0 from 18 record in this race.
This is a race for speedsters and runners from a NH background have dominated flat bred runners since the watering policy was introduced. The winner of this has invariably won a NHF race and also won a race in their career by an eye catching distance; Galileo’s Choice won a Group 3 on the flat in December and didn’t go down the bumper route. The better ground could swing it in his favour, but preference is for Montbazon, who is rated 144 and has won his last 2 races with ease and also won a NHF race, before finishing 2nd in the big Aintree bumper.
Alan King doesn’t enter a runner in this race unless he fancies its chances and Montbazon is only his 4th entrant; Irish trainers dominated this race a few years ago but English based trainers have won the last 2 and 4 of the last 7 renewals and King is very bullish about his chances.
Danger: Galileo’s Choice
Today’s Selection Sponsored by Betting Insiders Club
Twice Red 4.25 Southwell 1pt win @ 17`2 Bet Victor
It looks like there could be plenty of pace on with a few front runners in the line up. The selection will need that strong pace to run at with this drop to 5 furlongs, so things could just fall just right.