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Neptune Novices Hurdle preview

And back again we go! This is where it gets difficult, at least from my angle. Backing up day after day, with only 24hr decs for most races, makes it bloody hard to do the form properly. This race is the main competition to the Supreme Novices' - with Melon going down yesterday, has Harry Fry made the right decision with Neon Wolf? We'll know just after 1.30...

Saddling up for the preview is recent addition to the blog Alex Peperell, @al_peps. Start the day right with this great analysis...

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Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle
Grade 1, £125,000, about 2m5f
Cheltenham Wednesday 1330 GMT 0030 AEDT


To kick off the second day of the greatest show on turf we have the 2m5f Neptune Novices’ Hurdle. This looks like it could be a very competitive race with some potential superstars embedded within the declarations. It’s a shame Finian’s Oscar has picked up an injury and misses this contest, but he is one to look forward to next season.

Neon Wolf heads the market and with good reason, he looked imperious last time out when hammering Elgin at Haydock. The vibes coming from the yard and jockey Noel Fehily would fill you with confidence if you already fancy this horse. Unbeaten in four starts including a point to point he certainly looks the one to beat, he jumps well and won’t have a problem staying the trip. If you are looking for a reason not to back him you would look at the fact he hasn’t been to Cheltenham and he hasn’t experienced good ground, personally I don’t feel either will be an issue.

Alan King’s horses weren't firing at the festival last year and he will be hoping to chalk up more winners this time around. Messire Des Obeaux looks to hold strong claims as he has already won a Grade 1 this season in the Challow Hurdle. He beat some good horses that day in Baltazar D’allier and Ami Desbois quite comfortably, prior to that he beat Ballyandy in a Grade 2 at Sandown. Giving 8lbs to Keeper Hill last time out he performed admirably to only go down a neck and that rival re-opposes again here but based on that run the form should be reversed off level weights. A seventh in last season's Fred Winter means he has experience of the track and he might be able to outrun his odds.

The Irish have a number of worthy contenders to challenge the British horses and Bacardys leads the line. His Bumper form is very strong with a third here at last season's festival, a win in the Aintree Bumper and a third at Punchestown behind Blow By Blow and Moon Racer. On his latest run he just got the better of stablemate Bunk Off Early in the Deloitte and this extra distance should suit him really well, he has festival form and shouldn’t be overlooked.

Shattered Love looks like a very strong candidate for Gordon Elliot and is potentially overpriced at 14/1. Her form ties in closely with Airlie Beach and Let’s Dance (at the time of writing I’m not sure where the latter runs, wherever she lines up she has a great chance) and those two are well regarded. Third in what looks like a strong Mares Bumper at Aintree last season that race is working out well and she beat Forge Meadow easily last time out who has subsequently won a Grade 2 by eight lengths. With her 7lb allowance I think she has a cracking chance.

Willoughby Court wasn’t too far behind Bacardys in the Aintree Bumper but based on his victories he would be much better suited to a bit of cut in the ground and I don’t believe he is going to get that here.

1) Neon Wolf
2) Shattered Love
3) Messire Des Obeaux

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