POSTED Mar 11, 2014
    OK, here we go. . .our first race today is The Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. It's a Grade 1 for novice 4-year-olds and up going 2 1/16 miles. I am going to mainly play around with two horses here. #17 WICKLOW BRAVE is interesting. He's looked impressive in his hurdle starts and the expected pace and ground should help him. That's actually an important thing to point out for USA fans -- ground (aka course condition) is a major handicapping factor in jumps racing, as is the "horse-for-course" concept. The range of ground and different types of courses make it a bit harder to rely on what we consider the basics over here. The longshot I'll be looking at is #10 THE LIQUIDATOR. He's shown an affinity for Cheltenham and a good fourth in last year's Champion Bumper (a flat race for inexperienced jumps horses). Here's one for the STATS-minded players among you: four of the last eleven winners of this race finished in the first five of the previous year's champion bumper. The biggest knock I have on my top choice is that the great Ruby Walsh took off him to ride #15 VATOUR. He's a very logical co-favorite here and one to include if you're playing the OMNI. I also want to mention #18 WILDE BLUE YONDER. I'll be rooting for him because I know his owners from a famed racing message board that helped introduce me to this wonderful sport. He's coming off a couple of falls and it's not easy to win at Cheltenham coming off negative experience. But he's a nice horse and a much improved effort would not surprise. I'll be back with a post about the Arkle in about 30 minutes.
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