Supreme Novices' Hurdle Entries
Getabird (2/1) and Samcro (4/1) were among the 73 entries for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle as the initial entries were revealed for the novice hurdle events at the Cheltenham Festival a week last Thursday.
The Festival's opening race has been a happy hunting ground for trainer Willie Mullins and owner Susannah Ricci as they have taken three of the last five renewals of the Supreme Novices' Hurdle.
The promising Sharjah (25/1), also owned by Mrs Ricci, and Menghli Khan (12/1), second to Getabird at Punchestown under a penalty, are also in the top half of 888sport's Cheltenham Festival betting markets.
Nicky Henderson will be looking to add another victory to his three triumphs in the race already with the exciting hurdler Claimantakinforgan (16/1).
If The Cap Fits is a general 7-1 shot for the Grade One contest on March 13. The Harry Fry six-year-old maintained his unbeaten record over hurdles with victory at Kempton on Boxing Day.
Kalashnikov (7/1) fired himself right into the mix for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle with a comprehensive win in the Betfair Hurdle on Saturday.
The five-year-old looked a high-class prospect after winning a Wetherby bumper and twice over hurdles at Wetherby and Doncaster and he was far from disgraced when finishing second in last month's Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown.
Kalashnikov was cut to as short as 7-1 from 20-1 for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle after his trainer Amy Murphy confirmed after his win that the Cheltenham Festival curtain-raiser is the likely next port of call. She said: "He has given us no reason to go anywhere else and I think you have to stay at two miles for now."
The inaugural Dublin Racing Festival was hailed a massive success and it was easy to see why. The two day weekend event gave us some of the best horses in Ireland taking each other on, some standout performances and plenty of Cheltenham Festival clues.
Samcro was the star of the show on the Sunday making it six wins from six, and collecting his first Grade One in visually eye-catching style, beating Duc Des Genievres by five-and-a-half lengths.
Gordon Elliott said after the race to not completely rule him out of the Supreme but all the indications are that he will line up for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle for which he is an even money shot.
The finish of the weekend was undoubtedly in the Flogas Novice Chase which turned into a five-way go jumping the last.
Monalee, ridden by Noel Fehily, put in a great round of jumping to just fend off his rivals by a hard fought three-quarters of a length. He is now quoted at 4/1 for the RSA Chase.
Gold Cup Aspirations
Killultagh Vic is said to have recovered "remarkably well" from his final-fence fall in the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown last Sunday according to his trainer, Willie Mullins.
The nine-year-old took a heavy fall at the last when looking all over the winner with many fearing the worst given the visual appearance of the tumble.
Mullins said: "Killultagh Vic is fine and came out of the race remarkably well.
"He isn't back riding out yet but hopefully he will shortly."
He made a successful return from his lengthy absence in a hurdle race at Punchestown on New Year's Eve before being thrown in against the big boys last weekend and he acquitted himself rather well.
At his most recent pomp the gelding claimed the notable scalp of Thistlecrack on his last appearance over hurdles at the 2015 Punchestown Festival.
Native River put himself firmly in the Gold Cup picture after making a successful return from almost a year on the sidelines with victory in the Denman Chase at Newbury.
Colin Tizzard's runner won the Hennessy Gold Cup, the Welsh Grand National and the Denman contest last season and despite having been off the track since finishing third in the Cheltenham Gold Cup last March, he went off the odds-on favourite for his belated return to action.
When asked about a second bid for Gold Cup glory, his jockey Richard Johnson said: "He feels every bit as good as he did last year. I think if he can produce last year's run in the Gold Cup, that puts him bang there.
"He was only beaten just over two lengths in it last year and the Gold Cup looks very open this year.
"You've got to think he's got a fantastic chance." Tizzard told the assembled press:
"Absolute relief. We all saw what he can do last year. You can't ask for any more really.
It was an ideal prep for the Gold Cup and as long as he's OK in the next 10 days, the dream is still alive.”
Altior (4/6) is now odds-on to win the Queen Mother Champion Chase after dismissing his two opponents with ease in the Game Spirit Chase on Saturday.
Nicky Henderson said of Altior on Sunday: "He is 100 per cent and he pulled out great this morning. It was very important yesterday and you have to say it could not have gone any more spectacular.
"The whole thing impressed me yesterday. He relaxed, put his head down and jumped beautifully. Everything was good.
"I didn't dare to dream he would win as well as that. It is nice that he is still unbeaten.
"It's a shame that he has missed good races but if everything goes right he has still got plenty of big races to go for.
"The wind wasn't a problem. If anything was going to test his wind it was that ground on Saturday. That was great and it (wind) was never going to be a worry.
"It is well done to the guys who did the operation, they did a very good job as we were able to get him back a little bit quicker from a full hobday operation to the racecourse.”