THE antepost market for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle has revolved around two horses this season. First there was Jonbon, then there was Constitution Hill. Then there was Jonbon again, and then, as of last week, there was Constitution Hill again.
The pair are two fine novice hurdlers. Obviously. One of them cost £570,000 and has bounds of potential, the other made heavy ground look like decent ground when sluicing to a 12-length Grade 1 win. But surely there is an element to this antepost market, outwardly conspicuous by its absence? That is a Willie Mullins-trained springer.
Kilcruit was meant to take up that role but the talent he showed in bumpers last season has also been conspicuous by its absence.
Over to Dysart Dynamo and Hawai Game who will represent Closutton in the Grade 2 Sky Bet Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle at Punchestown tomorrow (12.15) and so get a platform that has been given to some star names. In the last decade the champion trainer chose this race for Vautour, Douvan, Min and Getabird who all went on to start favourite or second favourite for the Supreme.
Dysart Dynamo seems like the number one hope. He was a 19-length winner at Cork on his hurdles debut, jumping well for Sean O’Keeffe, and he won a bumper impressively at this track, so it’s a nice race for him. Hawai Game was a smooth winner of his maiden hurdle at Naas and his owner J.P. McManus has won this contest in recent seasons with Andy Dufresne and Any Second Now.
Should either of them win, and do so impressively, the Supreme market should get a shake up. And with Sir Gerhard likely to make his case at the Dublin Racing Festival, we could be set fair for another classic Festival opener.
Later on tomorrow’s Punchestown card, Bob Olinger is back and that’s worth the admission fee alone.
Significantly, Rachael Blackmore is also back on his back, for the first time over fences. The Robcour gelding could have jumped tidier in his beginners’ at Gowran Park but that track doesn’t offer the kindest first experience of chasing and he still won comfortably from Bacardys and Master McShee, who went on to win the Faugheen Novice Chase at Limerick.
Capodanno, who did something of a Killultagh Vic impression on his beginners’ chase at Naas - getting up to win when it looked like all chance had gone following a second-last-fence error - is an intriguing runner.
The favourite should have his mettle tested, with his talented old foe Gaillard Du Mesnil adding depth to the contest which should be run very well through the free-going Lifetime Ambition.
THE Coral Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle (2.40) was oversubscribed this week and that wasn’t a surprise given the two-mile-five-furlong contest has seen a £45,000 prize-money bump to £100,000.
Last night the biggest market move was for Green Book, who arrives here on a hat-trick, represents a trainer who is operating at 22% strike rate and has been tipped up by our expert Rory Delargy on page 44.
No pressure then for his conditional jockey Ned Fox, who still holds his 10lb claim and will be having just his 34th career ride. The 21-year-old rode the son of Authorized to win at Haydock on his penultimate start, but that was a nine-runner handicap hurdle worth £7,000 to the winner. This is a 20-runner handicap hurdle worth £56,500 to winner. There won’t be an inch given.
No wonder Fox has labelled the opportunity as the “biggest ride of my career.”
The jockey went on to say: “I found out on Wednesday that I was potentially in line for the ride when Venetia was walking around with an owner and she introduced me and said ‘it is very possible he will lose his 10lb claim, which you lose after riding five winners, on Saturday’.
“This will only be his fifth run over hurdles and he is only just getting the hang of it. The first time I won on him he didn’t jump brilliantly, but he didn’t lose any momentum at hurdles.
“The next day at Ludlow he jumped better and hopefully at Kempton he will be spot on now. There is no question of him seeing out the trip.”
Fox’s confidence in Green Book as a stayer seems well founded given he won the Chester Plate (two miles and two furlongs) on the flat. Green Book was vying for favouritism with Maries Rock last night.
That Nicky Henderson-trained mare has often been well supported in the market but she had become frustrating until she bolted up over this course and distance on St Stephen’s Day. That is significant given the idiosyncratic nature of Kempton. The horse this race was named after was unbeaten in eight starts at the Sunbury course.