Min To Continue Mullins’ Supreme Reign
Supreme Novices' Hurdle
Punters looking to get Cheltenham 2016 off to a good start in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle may opt for a system that has worked during the last two years – simply back the red-hot favourite trained by Willie Mullins!
Another Win For Mullins’ Min?
The name of this year’s hotpot carrying the hopes of backers in the opener is Min, who has impressed in winning both outings for Mullins this season, and is 13/8 to make it 3-3 for the master handler.
Having won his maiden by 21l, Mullins then stepped Min up to Grade 2 company at Punchestown last time (2m, heavy), where the 5yo again destroyed the opposition, this time by a whopping 9l, with the subsequent Grade 2 winner, Ball D’Arc (33/1), 11l away in third.
Conditions To Suit Min
What also stands out about that performance is the fact Min was very keen early on owing to a lack of pace, but that won’t be an issue in the Supreme, where a stronger pace will suit.
Mullins also stated he works best at home on good ground, so there should be stacks of improvement to come.
Should that improvement arise at Cheltenham, punters may well be shouting the grandstand down if he slices up once more, just as Douvan did for connections 12 months ago. However, Britain will be keen to point out that this is no “one-horse race”, as Nicky Henderson will look to break Mullins’ three-year reign in this event via his unbeaten hurdler, Altior (4/1).
Henderson To Halt Mullins?
A Grade 2 winner on his third outing for the yard at Cheltenham in November (2m, good to soft), Altior then took a lower grade event at Kempton on Boxing Day where he beat the Mullins-trained, Open Eagle, by an impressive 13l. There will be no question marks surrounding Altior in terms of handling track and ground, and he rates a good value option to the favourite.
Henderson also has the current third in the betting, Buveur D’Air (7/1), who was fourth in last season’s Grade 2 bumper at Aintree in April (good to soft), before winning a couple of small 2m hurdles this term. The manner in which he beat a subsequent winner 11l at Newbury on the second of those victories was impressive, and he remains highly unexposed.
Mullins also has solid numbers via Yorkhill (8/1), who beat several subsequent winners when landing a Grade 1 at Sandown in January (2m, heavy), though he does have other entries having won over 2m4f previously.
Stablemate, Bleu Et Rouge, is also a stamina-laden Grade 1 winner, having beat Tombstone (14/1) 3l in the Deloitte at Leopardstown in February (2m2f, soft), though he also has options over further. Tombstone on the other hand, could well prefer the return to a stiff 2m, and is a definite each-way contender at 14/1.
Both Willie Mullins and Nicky Henderson hold strong hands, but with Henderson’s last win in the race way back in 1992, it could well be a third straight win for Mullins courtesy of Min. The form of his latest victory stacks up nicely, and the likely decent gallop and good ground will be in his favour.
*Prices correct at time of publication