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Past festival king goes under radar on weekend of Supreme clues

| 10.02.2014

On a weekend in which Ladbrokes pushed Vautour in to 4/1 favouritism for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, 2011 Champion Bumper victor Cheltenian gave his own claims a more subtle advertisement.

Vautour was deeply impressive in getting the better of fellow Irish hopeful The Tullow Tank in the Grade 1 Deloitte Novices’ Hurdle.

However, the soft to heavy ground, on which the vanquished second had never finished better than 11l behind first place in two previous attempts, along with the small field, makes the form difficult to gauge.

Vautour’s previous graded win in Ireland had also come on soft to heavy going, meaning those interested in backing The Tullow Tank at 10/1 can offer the better ground expected at the festival as a reason their man can reverse form.

Away from the Grade 1 spotlight, Newbury’s Betfair Hurdle produced an intriguing Supreme Novices’ performance, as it so often does, in fourth-placed Cheltenian.

Two years ago Darlan was throwing down a compelling challenge when falling two out in the race, while last term My Tent Or Yours was a hugely beguiling winner.

Both went on to claim silver medals in the Supreme, with the latter actually coming home 59 and a half lengths clear of Cheltenian, in the 2013 renewal.

However, that distant 10th was the final act of a miserable season which Hobbs’ eight-year-old had been expected to miss in its entirety after injuring himself in the wake of his 2011 Champion Bumper victory.

Sent off at 25/1 that day, 11 months on Cheltenian can be backed at 40/1 on the back of a highly promising 4l fourth at Newbury.

On heavy going it was an excellent run for a horse whose festival win came on good ground.

The winner A Splash Of Ginge shared the Hobbs’ horse’s official rating of 134, but his jockey’s 7lb claim entitled him to be at least as far ahead as he was at the line.

Having beaten 2012 Supreme winner Cinders And Ashes in the 2011 Champion Bumper, Cheltenian clearly has the engine for Cheltenham success over 2m.

Given good ground he’ll look a massive price at 40/1 come Festival Tuesday.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Alex Fortune