Champion Canyon To Strike Gold
Tatts Ireland Champion Novice Hurdle
Friday’s Tatts Champion Novice Hurdle at Punchestown (6.05) is a race in which punters held the edge over the years, as nine of the last 10 winners returned 8/1 or shorter.
Canyon To Strike Gold?
Indeed, this 2m4f event is one in which backers can approach with confidence in terms of focusing on the main protagonists at the head of the betting, plus with Willie Mullins having won it four times since 2005, a short-list starts to develop.
Amongst that list is Nichols Canyon, who recorded a career best in landing a Grade 1 at Aintree last month (2m4f, good), which made up for a third in the Neptune at Cheltenham (2m5f, good).
This 5yo is progressing well and should take plenty of beating if in the same mood as at Aintree.
Mullins Holds Strong Hand
Mullins also has another talented 5yo in Sempre Medici, who was fifth in a competitive handicap at Cheltenham (2m1f, soft), before improving to win a Grade 2 at Fairyhouse (2m, soft). Mullins stated after the win that Sempre Medici would improve throughout the spring, which makes him a force in this line-up.
Others amongst the Mullins clan, include the 7yo Outlander, who was 1l behind Nichols Canyon at Cheltenham prior to finishing second in a Grade at Fairyhouse last month (2m4f, soft).
But, there are others outside the Mullins grip who could land this prize, and those who experienced the winner’s enclosure during their last three outings had the right profile down the years, suggesting Phil’s Magic, could go well at a price. Although well beaten behind Sempre Medici last time, he deserves another chance.
Of the last 10 Novice Hurdle winners…
10 won during their last three runs
9 returned 8/1 or shorter
9 were 5-6yo’s
9 never ran over 2m4f last time
9 won two hurdles or more
7 won last time out
W Mullins won it four times
Alpha Back In Trip
One who hasn’t won since November is Mouse Morris’ Alpha Des Obeaux, although he was just over 3l behind Douvan in a Grade 2 over 2m here in January. Not seen afterwards until falling at Aintree last month, his maiden win came over 2m4f and it will be interesting to see what he does back over this trip.
As has been the theme throughout the week, Willie Mullins holds a very strong hand here, with the likes of Nichols Canyon arriving at the top of his game and proven in the conditions, whether the ground stays dry or softens.