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Yanworth to repel Mullins battallion in Neptune Novices’ Hurdle

| 16.03.2016

Harry Preston | March 15, 2016

Alan King’s classy Yanworth looks to be the answer in an intriguing Neptune Novices’ Hurdle. Despite what looks to be a strong Willie Mullins quartet, the unbeaten hurdler can confirm the promise shown last time out when sauntering home at Cheltenham.

JP McManus’ gelding heads the betting with Coral at evens after extending his unbeaten hurdling record to four from four. The biggest threat to Yanworth could be Mullins’ Yorkhill (5/2), who impressed in the Tolworth Hurdle after being heavily backed into 4/9 favourite.

Cheltenham Races - The International - Day One

The Kilkenny handler also saddles A Toi Phil (7/1), Bello Conti (16/1) and Thomas Hobson (16/1) in a race that his stable star Faugheen won back in 2014.

A Worthy favourite

Yanworth pulled clear of a decent field including the likes of Shantou Village, who is prominent in the betting for Friday’s Albert Bartlett Hurdle, without even coming off the bridle. He relished the extra half-mile that day travelling well every yard up the hill despite the slow ground.

On the back of two facile Grade 2 victories, it would be no surprise to see further improvement when racing on better ground which is forecasted for Wednesday. We could be looking at a real superstar here.


Mullins to spoil the party?

It definitely seems that Mullins has the best chance of upsetting the favourite saddling four out of the top five in the market. Ruby Walsh sticks with Yorkhill despite A Toi Phil impressing at Leopardstown when bolting up in a Grade 2 contest in January.

Walsh, who picked up three winners of Day One of the Festival, saddles the 5/2 shot and has been well supported antepost in all three races he was entered in. Bello Conti got rid of its maiden tag last time quite impressively, though may find a few of these Neptune Novice rivals too classy.

Thomas Hobson makes up the quartet and is the most exposed of Mullins’ team, however it did improve last time staying on resolutely to beat stablemate Open Eagle at Warwick.

Running in the colours of Rich Ricci, Hobson is likely to be frontrunner which may be pivotal to the chances of Yorkhill who would like to come off a strong pace.

Outside Chance?

Seven Barrows

Nicky Henderson’s O O Seven has place claims after winning at Musselburgh last time. However, it may be Dermot Weld’s challenger Vigil that poses the most potent threat to the market principles, having finished 4 lengths behind Yanworth when fifth in the Champion Bumper last year, so can’t be ruled out despite finishing behind A Toi Phil two starts ago.

Dan Skelton’s charge Welsh Shadow also is of interest after giving Alan King’s other exciting prospect, Winter Escape, a good race at Kempton last month. Its’afreebee, Yala Enkei and Ghost River complete the line-up in a race which has the potential to produce something special.


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Harry Preston