Neptune Novices' Hurdle free betting tips for the first race on day 2 of the Cheltenham Festival 2014 at 1.30pm and race preview.
The opening race of the second day of the Festival is the Neptune Novices' Hurdle, a race which over the years has become an classy affair. This year looks to be no different with a number of horses putting their unbeaten reputations firmly on the line. With 16 set to go to post and the market leaders trading at fair prices, this is a great race for punters to get stuck into.
RED SHERLOCK (4/1 BetVictor) was the advised ante-post bet back in February and he has duly shortened through sustained market support. Cheltenham course form is important as a prevailing factor in many Festival races and this horse has two victories at Prestbury Park to his name. His trainer David Pipe has been pretty bullish, rating Red Sherlock’s chances as among his best for the week. His form is pretty solid throughout, from his first Towcester bumper win over Indian Castle (subsequent handicap winner off 135) to his victory at Cheltenham where he pulled away from Rathvinden on Trials Day. He should handle the drying ground and looks a fair price too.
The Willie Mullins team are two handed with both Faugheen (7/4 William Hill) making his British debut, and the soundly beaten Rathvinden (6/1 Betfred) opposing again. Faugheen has a highly likeable profile and is another horse who arrives here unbeaten. He has some impressive form in the book, beating Josses Hill in a Punchestown bumper by 22 lengths. Josses Hill franked that form when finishing second in yesterday's Supreme and also finishing second in a hotly contested Tolworth. Faugheen has shown his versatility of varying trips and there is a definite suspicion he could be a really special horse. That said, there have been murmurs from the Mullins' yard the preparation has not been ideal for Faugheen and, while that is not too off-putting, it is something to bear in mind. The yard is in a typically rich vein of form and he should put in a strong performance.
Royal Boy (NON-RUNNER) for champion trainer Nicky Henderson is an interesting second season novice who enters contention with a real chance. The form of his Ascot win at the start of the season has been franked with the second (Big Hands Harry) coming out and winning since, albeit in a fairly lukewarm contest. Again the form with Josses Hill has been well advertised in the Supreme. While he has experience, second season novices do not fair too well on the stats here but the market support has come in for this reverting chaser who definitely merits respect.
Of the rest, Cole Harden (50/1 Stan James) had his colours lowered pretty decisively by Un Temps Pour Tout and in terms of ratings looks to have plenty to find. Lieutenant Colonel (11/1 William Hill) could well outrun his odds and has run close to both Vautour and Wicklow Brave, as his trainer points out he is interesting back up in trip as he may not have the gears that 2m requires. Ballyalton (14/1 BetVictor) should be much more at home on better ground but his closely run races against some of the other horses we have seen (Garde La Victoire, Oscar Rock) probably means we have a good measure of his ability.
In summary RED SHERLOCK and Faugheen are pretty closely tied on most ratings. In a match bet I think most punters would opt for the value. With course form added to the mix both in bumpers and hurdles he figures highly as a great bet at a decent price too.
RED SHERLOCK (WIN) (4/1 BetVictor)
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