With Willie Mullins opting to wait until Friday to run Boston Bob, Nicky Henderson’s Simonsig (5/2, Paddy Power) has shot the head of the betting for the Neptune Investment Novices Hurdle.
The favourite has looked very classy in all three of his starts this season, only going down to Fingal Bay amidst a trio of impressive performances. Last seen cruising to victory at Kelso, the worry with Simonsig is that it looks like he might find very little when he hits the daunting hill at Cheltenham.
Henderson’s horse has arrived at the business end of all of his races absolutely swinging on the bridle and the only time he was properly tested, Fingal Bay easily repelled him when he was sent to go and win his race.
That would be a huge worry heading to Prestbury Park and although it is impossible not to be impressed by the way he travels, it looks like a flatter track would play much more to his strengths. Also, he looks a huge strapping individual and the fact he is destined to be a high class chaser could see him under serious threat when he faces something with a little more pace in the Grade One.
The bet to be had is undoubtedly MONKSLAND
(6/1, Blue Square
) who will be looking to maintain his unbeaten record this season for Irish trainer Noel Meade.
The expensive son of Beneficial hasn’t looked back in 2011/12, coasting to victory at Down Royal and Navan before beating the high class Lyreen Green (won a Grade Two since) in the Slaney Novice Hurdle at Naas.
In all of his three starts, Monksland has looked a very talented five-year-old and his latest success was enough to send connections to Cheltenham full of confidence. Racing a couple of lengths off the pace, he jumped accurately and impressively, proving he had a turn of gear and the tactical pace to put a difficult race to bed.
He remains open to considerable improvement, he is certain to relish the better ground at Cheltenham and this unexposed Irish raider has more than enough ability to expose any of the chinks in Simonsig’s armour. He looks a fantastic each-way bet and he could give Noel Meade a long overdue victory at the Festival.