Thursday, December 22, 2011

Boston Bob fires Cheltenham Festival warning

Willie Mullins unveiled a potential star staying hurdler of the future as his Boston Bob easily accounted for Mount Benbulben in the Grade 1 Navan Novice Hurdle on only the second outing of his career over timber, writes Elliot Slater.

There was a great deal to like about the way the Graham Wylie-owned gelding went about his business giving the impression he had been doing the job all his life when in fact he is still very much a newcomer to the National Hunt game. Settling nicely under Ruby Walsh, the 9/4 second-favourite was dropped in at the rear of the field before being asked to make his move after the third last in the two-and-a-half-mile contest.

Sweeping past the odds-on Mount Benbulben at the second from home, the six-year-old soon had matters under control and came away to win as he pleased by a very comfortable four-and-a-half-lengths from the favourite who found little once coming under pressure and proved a shade disappointing under Paul Carberry. People looking at the ante-post Cheltenham betting odds should bear this in mind.

Mullins was delighted with the performance from the son of Bob Back who had only once previously raced over timber when scoring over course and distance five weeks earlier in maiden company. It is rare that a horse is asked to step up so markedly after just one experience of hurdling but it is a mark of the respect that the Irish champion trainer has for Boston Bob that he had no qualms about taking on a high-class performer and duly proved more than up to the task.

Bookmakers slashed the odds of a victory for Boston Bob in the Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March to just 12/1 (from 25’s), whilst he was also cut for the Neptune Investment Managers Novices Hurdle at the same fixture and is now a best priced 16/1 chance having previously been available at 20/1.

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