Supasundae, last year’s Coral Cup winner, has gone favourite for the three-mile Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival after taking the racing public by surprise by beating the ageing Faugheen in the two-mile Irish Champion Hurdle last weekend.
Without wanting to sound like Captain Hindsight, it was little surprise to me given how poorly Faugheen had run last time out – that race was set up for an upset – but connections were clearly thrilled to land such a lucrative and prestigious bonus en route to their primary Cheltenham assignment.
Trainer Jessie Harrington has confirmed nothing has changed regarding Supasundae’s intended tilt at the Stayers’ despite his price, which has been slashed into a general 3/1.
Suddenly the Stayer’s Hurdle market looks plain wrong – more specifically the non-runner no bet market.
Let me rewind a month or so.
Sam Spinner was the favourite for the Stayers’ after beating the tame-finishing L’Ami Serge in the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot (we tipped L’Ami Serge; insert swear word) and, in echoes of the Big Buck’s-Quevega days, the division’s best horse Apple’s Jade is all set to take the easier mares’ race on the Tuesday.
Grade 1 winning novice hurdler Finian’s Oscar is flopping over fences and last season’s Grade 1 Liverpool Hurdle winner YANWORTH isn’t looking too good at jumping them either, so suddenly both their trainers are quoted in the racing press as considering reverting to hurdles for a soft looking Stayers’ Championship.
While Finian’s Oscar has actually had a run over hurdles since that development, and duly bombed, we haven’t seen Yanworth since he finally put it all together over fences in a novices’ chase at Cheltenham, beating some useful horses like last season’s Neptune winner Willoghby Court.
The first thing I have to say about Yanworth is why on earth is he jumping fences in the first place, as he has all the hallmarks of a top-class staying hurdler and is already a Grade 1 winner in open company at that trip, not to mention a Grade 1 winning hurdler over two miles?
The second thing is why on earth is he 9/1 non-runner no bet for the Stayers’ to beat Supasundae, the same horse he beat a length in that Liverpool Hurdle, who trades three times shorter at 3/1?
Yanworth is a better horse than Supasundae in my opinion and the form book makes that fairly objective until they meet again – and there’s no chance of that happening before the Festival given both are confirmed to not be running again beforehand.
In fact, when I look at the Stayer’s market I struggle to find a genuine Grade 1 stayer besides Yanworth and Apple’s Jade, who we know is highly unlikely to run.
That’s one reason I’ve backed Wholestone ante-post at 16/1 for this race and, despite it probably looking odd to have two ante-post pokes at the same race, it’s one of many reasons to go to town on Yanworth in the early markets for this race too.
The other interesting development here regards the strength of the Irish challenge in the three-mile RSA Chase, Yanworth’s current plan A for the Festival, as last year’s Albert Bartlett second Monalee has just won a Grade 1 chase at Leopardstown and the current fav’ Presenting Percy is being talked about as an Irish banker, with a form profile increasingly backing that up.
Yanworth has a history of being aimed at the wrong race as he was favourite for last year’s Champion Hurdle, and I’m hoping connections don’t make the same mistake again.
His best chance is in the Stayer’s Hurdle, which is by far the richer and more prestigious race, and 9/1 non-runner no bet is absolutely huge given there aren’t really any more major trials left in this division to shake the market up.
Do the right thing Mr King!
2pts win Yanworth @9/1 non-runner no bet, Stayers’ Hurdle (Bet365)