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2015 Neptune Novices' Hurdle tips - Parlour Games to land day two opener for John Ferguson at Cheltenham Festival

  • John Ferguson's Parlour Games can give trainer first Festival success.
Parlour Games (black colours) can win the Neptune on day two of the Cheltenham Festival.

Brian assesses the ten runners who'll go to post for the second day's opening race, the Neptune Novices' Hurdle, won last year by Faugheen. 

Day two of the Cheltenham Festival kicks off with the competitive Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle, a Grade One event that takes place over two miles and five furlongs.

Some notable horses have won this race in the past, not least Faugheen who won this race twelve months ago before storming to victory in the Champion Hurdle on Tuesday; other big winners include The New One, Hardy Eustace, Istabraq and Danoli on an illustrious role of honour.

The first race of the day, it is due to go off at 1.30pm, and has attracted a field of ten runners for the contest.

ANTEROS (150/1, Coral)

Won a pair of bumpers back in 2013, and although he’s posted a mixed bag of results since, he has found the frame in the Bristol Novices’ Hurdle at this venue, and at Warwick in the Leamington Novices’ Hurdle.

However, Sophie Leech’s gelding has a mountain to climb in this event and form falls a long way short of what is required to win a race like this.

BEAST OF BURDEN (12/1, Coral)

Progressive gelding for Rebecca Curtis, and the Flemensfirth gelding has won three of his four outings to date, thumping a useful field at Bangor last time.

This contest represents another step up the ladder, but he remains open to plenty of improvement and lilkely has more to come. He can go well, and could make the frame again.

Rebecca Curtis' Beast Of Burden could be solid each-way value.

NICHOLS CANYON (4/1, Paddy Power)

Another powerful fancy from the Willie Mullins camp who has won three of his four outings, and ran out an easy winner of the Grade One Deloitte at Leopardstown under an aggressive ride. 

He had Windsor Park behind that day, and had previously unseated early in a race won by Sizing John, who ran a cracker in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle on Tuesday. However, he’s looked all speed and not sure to be suited by this marked step up in trip.

Deliotte Hurdle winner Nichols Canyon steps up in trip.

ORDO AB CHAO (14/1, Paddy Power)

A useful bumper performer, Alan King’s charge had won three of his four outings over obstacles, winning a Grade Two here last time from Value At Risk, although no match for Vyta Du Roc the time previously at Sandown.

No surprise to see him take another forward step now, and not one to be underestimated; every chance he can reach the frame.

OUTLANDER (4/1, Bet365)

Winner of his first three starts in bumpers, but flopped in a Grade One bumper at Punchestown after and was absent from the track for the better part of two years.

Willie Mullins’ charge returned to action to run out an easy 11-length winner over Mike Mccann at Fairyhouse back in November, and only went down by a neck next time at Limerick when stepped up to three miles, beaten by Martello Tower.

That form was reversed back over shorter at Leopardstown in January, with Mullins’ charge coming out on top, and more than capable of taking a hand in the finish for a stable with a good record in the race. Strong contender.

Outlander should run well for Gigginstown House Stud.

PARLOUR GAMES (6/1, Paddy Power)

Smart performer on the flat, but has taken his form to a whole new level over jumps and has found the frame in all bar one start over timber since winning on debut at Huntingdon.

That blip came in the Galway Hurdle, but he’s since posted Grade Two victories in both the Hyde Novices’ Hurdle and the Challow Hurdle, showing a smart turn of foot both times, and he had Vyta Du Roc behind on the latter occasion when winning a shade cosily.

A course and distance winner, he can progress again and shouldn’t be far away.

John Ferguson can have a first Festival success with Parlour Games.

SNOW FALCON (33/1, William Hill)
Winner of a Fairyhouse bumper back in October, and has filled the runner-up berth three times since, although did register a win at Navan in January when beating Speed Demon by six lengths in a maiden hurdle contest.

One of those runner-up efforts came behind subsequent Grade Two runner-up, Milsean, so Noel Meade’s charge clearly has some ability. However, this is a significant step up in class for the Presenting gelding, and likely he’ll find a couple too good in this company.

VYTA DU ROC (7/1, Bet365)
Very smart performer who won his first four outings over hurdles for Nicky Henderson, including Grade Two successes in both the Sharp Novices’ Hurdle over this course, and the Winter Novices’ Hurdle at Sandown, before finding only Parlour Games too strong in the Challow Hurdle.

He wasn’t beaten far in that race, although John Ferguson’s runner perhaps won a shade cosily; nevertheless, the Lion Noir gelding should be competitive again, and he can give another good account.

Vyta Du Roc (green colours) finished behind Parlour Games in the Challow Hurdle.

WARRANTOR (50/1, William Hill)
Took a couple of attempts over hurdles to get it right, winning at Chepstow in November, but he followed up at Market Rasen after with a taking success at Market Rasen in December.

Stepped up in class again to contest the Lanzarote Hurdle, he was never a factor in the race behind Tea For Two where he took a keen hold and finished ultimately well beaten in seventh. 
He’ll need to bounce back from that effort, but there are easier races in which to do it, and likely he’ll be found wanting.

WINDSOR PARK (9/2, Coral)
Confined to bumpers for a large part of last season, Dermot Weld’s charge put an inauspicious start when pulled up on debut at Punchestown behind him when chasing home Value At Risk and Noble Endeavour in bumper contests at Fairyhouse and Leopardstown before opening his account in some style at Leopardstown in August last year.

Kept busy on the flat where he won twice, he won his hurdling debut in good fashion at Leopardstown, but was perhaps a shade disappointing behind Outlander next time when only fourth in a Grade Two contest, and chased home Nichols Canyon in the Deloitte on his last outing.

The Galileo gelding hasn’t always looked foot-perfect with his jumping, but not without a chance if able to keep the errors down and is likely to be suited by this trip.


Willie Mullins again boasts a strong hand with Deloitte winner Nichols Canyon and Outlander.

The former won well last time at Leopardstown, where he had Windsor Park behind, but he hasn’t looked short on speed and possibly might be undone by this step up in trip. Outlander has shown plenty of promise since returning from a lengthy absence, finishing runner-up and winner in a pair of Grade Two contests.

However, preference is for John Ferguson’s ex-flat recruit, PARLOUR GAMES (6/1, Paddy Power), who has taken his form to a new level and has only once failed to find the frame over hurdles when down the field in the Galway Hurdle. 

The Monsun gelding showed plenty of finishing kick when landing both the Hyde Novices’ Hurdle and the Challow Hurdle, where he had the reopposing Vyta Du Roc behind, and while he might need to improve again he looks an ideal type for this race.


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2015 Neptune Novices' Hurdle tips - Parlour Games to land day two opener for John Ferguson at Cheltenham Festival

Day two of the Cheltenham Festival kicks off with the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle, and Brian assesses the ten runners who'll go to post for the race won last year by Faugheen. 

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