The extended two-mile race is the first contest in Sky Bet’s “Road to Cheltenham”, which culminates with the £125,000 G1 Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, the opening race of The Festival at Cheltenham on Tuesday, March 13, 2018.
Heading Sunday’s market at 6/5 with Sky Bet is Dame De Compagnie (Nicky Henderson/Barry Geraghty). The four-year-old filly, owned by J P McManus, was placed in bumpers and over hurdles in France before making a perfect debut for the Henderson yard when scoring at Uttoxeter on November 3. Being a four-year-old filly, she gets a useful 7lb allowance in Sunday’s race.
Her main rival according to the market is Slate House (Colin Tizzard/Harry Cobden, 6/4 with Sky Bet). A winning Irish point-to-pointer, the five-year-old son of Presenting was sold for £260,000 at Cheltenham in March and made a winning debut for his current connections when successful in a maiden hurdle over Sunday’s course and distance on October 27.
Colin Tizzard said today: “Slate House is like a lot of ours in that he tightened up for his victory at Cheltenham last month. That was a nice performance and he really benefitted from that.
“He is a beautiful creature and we were really excited about him going into the race. After that performance, we were equally excited and surprised about how he won..
“We paid a few quid for him and he needed to prove that he was as good as the price we paid for him, but we thought he was. I think he will prove tough to beat. I’m very confident of a big run. It will take a good one to beat him.”
Also lining up on Sunday are Bedrock (Dan Skelton/Harry Skelton, 8/1), who was third in G1 company behind Defi Du Seuil at Aintree in April and successful subsequently at Warwick and Bangor. He was third in a conditions hurdle at Cheltenham on October 28 last time out.
Completing the field are Better Getalong (Nicky Richards/Noel Fehily, 16/1), who scored impressively on his hurdling debut at Ayr last month and Summerville Boy (Tom George/Adrian Heskin, 16/1), who won his only bumper start when trained in Ireland and was a close second on debut for the Tom George stable at Stratford on October 21.
Michael Shinners, Racing PR Manager at Sky Bet, said: “Sky Bet’s Road to Cheltenham is now in its fifth season and we have an intriguing contest for our opening contest of the 2017/18 campaign.
“Dame De Compagnie and Slate House both look to have bags of potential, while Bedrock has already shown a high level of form in Graded company.
“Altior won this race two seasons ago prior to landing the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at The Festival and we will be looking out for any early Festival clues at Cheltenham on Sunday.”
Sky Bet Supreme Trial Novices’ Hurdle, Sky Bet odds: 6/5 Dame De Compagnie ; 6/4 Slate House; 8/1 Bedrock; 16/1 Better Getalong, Summerville Boy