At 1:30pm on Tuesday afternoon, a roar will detonate from the grandstands at Prestbury Park that will be overheard all across Gloucestershire, as the starter sends the runners and riders on their way in this year’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle , proclaiming the start of the 2020 Cheltenham Festival.
Plenty of hard-earned money is already down on the Willie Mullins trained Asterion Forlonge claiming the first blow at the festival. There seems to be a huge amount of interest and belief in the chances of this particular good thing. Indeed, this exquisite grey and his imposing, lengthy stride have amazed most of his followers from day one; he almost fits all vital trends and statistics required to safeguard the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle this year.
Asterion Forlonge is unbeaten in his three racecourse starts thus far. This son of Coastal Path has taken everything in his stride, seemingly favoured by running in a prominent position from the onset. Being a Front-runner, which he’s done on his last 3 starts, is unquestionably no bad thing around Cheltenham. He could run them all ragged in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle if gifted a lead.
His ability was recently seen in great effect when winning a race at the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown by an eye-catching winning margin of nine-and-a-half-lengths. Even though the first few fences he worryingly jumping a tad to the left though his jockey Danny Mullins was quick to emphasise; “it was just greenness rather than a kink” – that is very reassuring to hear that going forward.
Irish Champion trainer Willie Mullins recently stated; “Asterion Forlonge has a huge cruising speed and while he’s never fast at home, he can keep that gallop up for two miles flat out”.
Reading between the lines, many would deem Asterion Forlonge to be banker material for the opening race of the festival and a victory for him would certainly get most punters’ weeks off to a good start. Indeed, he will certainly be a popular choice in the pools.
Willie Mullins has made no secret declaring that this relentless galloper reminded him of a lot of Champagne Fever; the winner of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in 2013. Asterion Forlonge would need to step up more to get to the level expected in the supreme Novices’ but he has exhibited all the right signs thus far to suggest that he is getting better with every run.
His owner, Joe Donnelly, paid £290,000 for him after winning a point-to-point in early 2018; this could easily work out a very cheap acquisition in due course. All roads lead to a Supreme Novices’ Hurdle success story. It could be the start of something extraordinary for the Donnelly team , Willie Mullins and Asterion Forlonge.
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