Racing at Cheltenham returns on Friday with a classy seven-race card that features the G2 Sharp Novices’ Hurdle – otherwise known as the ‘Supreme Trial’.
Below are a couple of tips, including one in the aforementioned Graded contest, for the occasion.
14:25 – El Elefante @ 3/1
This novices’ hurdle over 2m4f is ‘only’ a Class 2, but dare I say it has more strength-in-depth than the Grade 2 later on the card.
You could make a case for several of these, but the one for me is Lucinda Russell’s El Elefante.
As I’ve said many times, in many different ways, this very week, Russell is mustard – and this looks another top prospect for her operation up in Scotland.
After being bought for £40,000 in January, the five-year-old won a couple of late-season bumpers by a combined 10L and then re-appeared this term with a mightily impressive hurdling debut.
She certainly wasn’t up against world-beaters that day, but three of her four rivals won last time out and ultimately she trounced them by 24L without coming off the bridle.
We’ll know more about how good she is, and the heights she could reach, afterwards, but it’s hard not to buy into the obvious promise when her trainer is saying things like “you pinch yourself training horses of this quality.”
She’s proven at the trip and the forecast quicker ground should be no bother, so she’s worth chancing here.
15:55 – Lookaway @ 11/2
The Grade 2 over two miles looks even trickier, but I keep coming back to Neil King’s Lookaway.
He was an impressive PTP winner in November 2021 and transferred that ability to bumpers, landing a decent affair at Newbury in February last year before an impressive success in the G2 at Aintree’s Grand National Festival.
As a result, he went into last season with a lofty reputation, but for whatever reason he was bitterly disappointing. He was beaten by wide margins in three novice hurdles, but looks to have come to hand somewhat over the summer, having won a quickfire double at Uttoxeter in May. It might not be the strongest form, but I don’t believe the Lookaway from earlier in the season won’t have done what he did there.
What I can’t get away from is why they’re running here and not a handicap. He looks very well-treated off a mark of 122, yet connections are aiming high instead. A sign of confidence, perhaps?
There’s some decent rivals in opposition, but all have their own questions to answer and, at the prices, Lookaway looks the best bet to me.