Oscars Well to dig deep – Neptune Novices Hurdle preview

The JP Festival banker for Cheltenham Festival 2011 is Oscars Well in the Neptune Novices Hurdle. Let’s hope he can improve the jpfestival.com record which stands at 2 out 3 following Celestial Halo at 10/1 in 2008, Big Bucks in 2009 at 6/1 and last year’s disappointment Enterprise Park.

Oscars Well made his debut over hurdles in October last year at Thurles in a maiden hurdle where he finished second to Gran Torino. Since then he has run up a three timer winning at Punchestown, Navan (Grade 1) and on Saturday at Leopardstown (Grade 1), each time winning without fuss and showing improved form. His latest win was most impressive. Despite starting at 7/1 he readily dispatched the well thought of Willie Mullins trained even money favourite Zaidpour. In each victory, Oscars Well travels well in behind and then takes it up with 2 or 3 furlongs to go. He jumps well and really looks the part.

After Saturday’s win Jessica Harrington had no hesitation is nominating the Neptune as his Cheltenham target and did not seem in the least bit surprised by his win. She has a great Cheltenham Festival record and knows how to handle a very good horse, having trained the brilliant Moscow Flyer.

Furthermore, like JP Festival tip Peddlers Cross, he’s a son of Oscar who tend to prefer good ground. So we have a horse on an upward curve who knows how to win, who has likely further improvement on good ground, travels well and shows speed at the end of his races and is looked after by a trainer of six Cheltenham Festival winners.

Bobs Worth heads the market at 5/1 and is unbeaten over hurdles, his last two wins coming at Cheltenham. He has to be respected but I feel the the Irish form is better. It’s also interesting that Nicky Henderson has run 25 horses in this race and has yet to have a winner. So Young and Rock On Ruby are next best is the market. The former is a threat but Rock On Ruby was beaten by Bobs Worth at Cheltenham and is unlikely to reverse the placings. Other than that there is little strength in depth with some of those quoted under 20/1 such as Court In Motion and Zaidpour more likely to run elsewhere.

Take the 7/1 about JP Festival banker, Oscars Well as I can see him starting at half those odds on the Wednesday of Festival week.

Recommended bet and JP Festival Banker: 1 point ew Oscars Well 7/1 – generally – Neptune Novices Hurdle