Phil To Provide Mullins With Neptune No.4
Neptune Investment Novices' Hurdle
Although the Irish have won six of the last 10 renewals of Wednesday’s Neptune Novices’ Hurdle (1.30pm), Britain could hit back this time around via the popular Yanworth, who lines-up as the 4/5 favourite.
Will Yanworth Conquer Neptune?
Unbeaten in four outings over hurdles since finishing fourth in last year’s Champion Bumper here, Alan King’s fast-improving 6yo has gone from strength to strength, landing a couple of Grade 2’s the last twice. The second of those was in late-January when proving his stamina over 2m4f (heavy). The manner in which he went further clear suggests the extra furlong in the Neptune will suit, and it will take a good one to lower his colours.
Neptune No.4 For Mullins?
However, with Willie Mullins responsible for three Neptune winners since 2008, his 6yo, Yorkhill, rates good each-way value at 8/1 having won a Grade 1 at Sandown in January (2m heavy). Prior to that, Yorkhill won his maiden over 2m4f, and the fact he won a bumper on yielding suggests he has nothing to fear.
Both Yorkhill and Yanworth remain at the right end of the market, as the last eight Neptune winners returned 7/1 or shorter, and Yorkhill’s stablemate, A Toi Phil (8/1) could fall into that price bracket ahead of race time.
Having missed out in his first two outings over timber, this 6yo certainly made up lost time when landing his maiden at Leopardstown over 2m4f, before returning there to improve by another stone in landing a Grade 2 over 2m4f (soft).
Also entered in the Supreme, it would seem his stamina shown to date suggests this could be the race for him, and he shouldn’t be underestimated.
Another of the Mullins 6yo clan entered for the Neptune at this stage is Bellshill (10/1), a Grade 1 winner over 2m4f at the start of 2016, before beaten 18l by Bleu Et Rouge in the Deloitte a month later (2m2f). He ran very flat that day, and while a winner previously on heavy ground, the return to a sounder surface could see him bounce back.
Don’t Dismiss Deloitte Form
As for Bleu Et Rouge (12/1), the step up to 2m2f in the Deloitte triggered a clear career best effort, and the way Mullins’ 5yo stayed on that day suggests 2m4f may be within his compass. Tombstone was beaten 3l by Bleu Et Rouge, and will need to find more if figuring at Cheltenham.
Tombstone was also beaten 3/4l by stablemate, Long Dog (14/1), over Christmas – a victory that took the latter’s hurdles record to 6-7. Having won five times during the second half of 2015, Long Dog has been rested since, which could see him arrive at Cheltenham fresh and ready.
Very much a case of Alan King versus Willie Mullins, and while Yanworth remains an exciting prospect, the value is with Mullins’ A Toi Phil, who has stamina to burn and is still open to stacks of improvement, as a late-maturing sort. There was a lot to like about his Grade 2 win over 2m4f last time and a repeat of that should see him thereabouts.
*Prices correct at time of publication