Melodic Rendezvous is the most notable absentee from the final field for the William Hill Supreme Novices' Hurdle
Last Updated: March 12, 2013 2:06pm
My Tent Or Yours: Heads the field for the Supreme
Melodic Rendezvous is the most notable absentee from the final field for the William Hill Supreme Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
Jeremy Scott has been dealt a second blow with the enforced absence of the Tolworth Hurdle winner who is reported to have scoped badly; Scott had already been forced to scratch ante-post favourite Empiracle from the Weatherbys Champion Bumper.
There are no such problems for the Supreme favourite, My Tent Or Yours, who heads the field of 12 following his victory in the Betfair Hurdle.
"The ground was pretty testing at Newbury, he coped with it OK, and it's going to be testing at Cheltenham again," said the horse's regular jockey AP McCoy.
"He's got a rating of 162, I can't remember many in the Supreme Novices' with that high a rating. That's not to say he's definitely going to win but it's a good start.
"I'm happy riding him. Obviously there's Un Atout in there, Jezki and Dodging Bullets, who has a high rating too, and the way the ground is riding might give Champagne Fever a bit more of a chance, but I'm not going to say anything negative about My Tent Or Yours."
Trainer Nicky Henderson also fears the Irish trio of Jezki, Un Atout and Champagne Fever as well as Dodging Bullets.
"Cheltenham is totally different to what he's done before," Henderson said. "All he has known is flat tracks but he is learning all the time to relax. I think the top four or five in the betting are very interesting - it's a seriously good race."
Henderson has not won the race since 1992 and has more recently seen Binocular and Darlan take the runner-up spot in the same colours of JP McManus.
The leading Festival trainer has an able second string in River Maigue, winner of a small event at Kempton but second to Dodging Bullets at this course in November, and most recently to Nicholls' Triumph candidate Far West at Ascot.
Henderson said: "River Maigue has had an up-and-down winter but the race at Ascot was slightly unsatisfactory. He's in good order, probably better than I've known him all year."
Owner JP McManus has a strong second string to his bow with Jessica Harrington's Jezki set to take his chance along with My Tent Or Yours.
Willie Mullins saddles Un Atout, Pique Sous and last year's Champion Bumper winner Champagne Fever who is the mount of Ruby Walsh.
Cheltenian, Puffin Billy and Dodging Bullets all take their chance as expected with the line-up completed by progressive handicapper Cause Of Causes and rank outsiders Fire King and Ostentation.