Silver Concorde set to take flight in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle

Take a chance on Dermot Weld’s Silver Concorde, each way, getting us off to the perfect start in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham today.

Silver Concorde set to take flight in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle

The more the surface continues to dry out the better chance the eight-year- old has and, hopefully, the weather forecasters are right and it will be a case of sunshine, rather than rain, on the lead in to the contest.

It does require a substantial leap of faith to want to be with one who is a maiden over flights, in what shapes as a particularly hot race.

But the son of Dansili is no ordinary maiden and is a horse of considerable ability, as he showed when landing the Champion Bumper here two years ago.

He is also a very useful sort on the flat, taking the very valuable 23-runner Tote November Handicap at Leopardstown last October.

Silver Concorde then reappeared over hurdles at Leopardstown at Christmas, going off an odds-on shot. But he got completely bogged down in the heavy ground and was beaten 13 lengths into second by one of his rivals now, Supasundae.

Willie Mullins’ Min has long been favourite, more on what might be, rather than anything the form book tells us.

Admittedly, he has been most impressive in winning twice here in Ireland, since arriving from France, but they were ordinary heats.

Min has a tendency to take a fierce pull and it will be most interesting to see how he handles the preliminaries and behaves, especially in the first half mile of the race.

It is also interesting that Mullins yesterday took Yorkhill out, considering the rumour mill has had it for some ten days or so that he was actually working better than Min.

Nicky Henderson has a seriously strong hand with Altior and Buveur d’Air. Altior’s record speaks for itself, four wins in as many runs, and he hardly broke sweat at Kempton last time to slam a Mullins inmate, Open Eagle, by 13 lengths.

Buveur d’Air too is most progressive, landing both his races this season, at Newbury and Huntington, and is going to strip a very fresh horse.

But Silver Concorde has been laid out for this, has reportedly been flying on the Curragh for a while now and is worth risking for a modest investment, at a decent price.

Mullins’ Douvan has a massive reputation, rightly so, and has scared away most of the opposition in the Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase.

Just six are set to take him on and, realistically, only Vaniteux can harbour any prospect of keeping tabs on this flying machine.

A brilliant jumper and powerful galloper, all logic tells us that only if Douvan comes a cropper will he meet defeat.

The defection of Faugheen has thrown the Stan James Champion Hurdle wide open and it is no great exaggeration to say you could find fault with all 13 of those remaining.

No matter what happens this shapes as far from a vintage renewal and punters should be prepared for the worst.

Annie Power does duty for Willie Mullins, purely because Faugheen is absent, and would be tackling almost another half mile in the following mares’ hurdle, but for that.

There is, though, a strong case to be made for Annie Power, on the basis she is the best horse in the race anyway and will be in receipt of the 7lbs mares allowance.

That is, of course, if the real Annie Power arrives. Annie has been under a cloud for most of the campaign and it looked as if she would come to the festival without an outing under her belt.

But she came to herself in time and was afforded a pipe opener at Punchestown last month, strolling to victory over a pair of outclassed rivals. All it revealed was that she was alive and well and has had far from an ideal preparation.

I propose going with her stable companion, Nichols Canyon, who has been discarded by Ruby Walsh, in favour of Annie Power, and will be partnered by Paul Townend.

You could argue Nichols Canyon is a solid each-way shout, but I would not go down that road, on the basis he could blow out totally.

He stays beyond two miles and loves good ground, but had a cruel race, in terrible conditions, when getting the best of a dour battle with Identity Thief at Leopardstown at Christmas.

That clearly left its mark when he was subsequently most disappointing behind Faugheen in the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown in late January. He has now had a break of 51 days and if that has worked the oracle he should at least go close.

Vroum Vroum Mag does duty, instead of Annie Power, in the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle and is the bet of the afternoon.

She wasn’t overly impressive when winning at Ascot last time, but I gather it is only in recent weeks that Willie Mullins has begun to hard-train her.

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