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Thursday, 13 December, 2018

Beware the Irish banker: five good things who failed at the festival

Dunguib: sent off the 4-5 favourite for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle but finished only third
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On the back of Eddie O'Leary stating that he 'doesn't do hype', despite the exciting Samcro taking all before him en route to the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle, we look at how five other Irish hype horses got on in the novice hurdles at Cheltenham since the turn of the century . . .

Youlneverwalkalone (5-4, Supreme Novices' Hurdle, 2000)

Youlneverwalkalone: failed to justify strong support at the festival

Hacked up when all the rage in a 2m bumper at Leopardstown's Christmas meeting in 1998 for trainer Christy Roche and was said to be targeted at the Champion Bumper, with his trainer holding him in the highest regard. 

However, he bypassed that and embarked on a hurdling career where he won all three starts, including a pair of Grade 2s, before being sent off the 5-4 favourite in the Supreme.

Having travelled well throughout and being ridden to challenge at the last, he failed to find the necessary turn of speed to land the prize, eventually finishing third to Sausalito Bay, with a certain Best Mate splitting the pair in second. Youlneverwalkalone also went on to eventually experience festival success, landing the 2003 William Hill Handicap Chase.

Sweet Wake (5-2, Supreme Novices' Hurdle, 2006)

Sweet Wake: hype overruled form and he could finish only fifth

Ex-German-trained Listed winner earned rave reviews from trainer Noel Meade before bolting up on his hurdling debut at Leopardstown. He then ran out an equally impressive winner at Navan at the end of January.

Sent off the 5-2 favourite due to the regard in which he was held at home rather than the strength of his form, Sweet Wake travelled like a very good horse through the race but failed to pick up once ridden for the first time over hurdles and disappointed in finishing fifth.

Dunguib (4-5, Supreme Novices' Hurdle, 2010)

First past the post in his last eight races, including the Grade 1 Champion Bumper at the festival in 2009, Dunguib was all the rage in the market before the 2010 Supreme and was sent off an odds-on chance at 4-5.

Held up in the early stages, he made eyecatching headway through the field but raced wide throughout and that may have cost him as he finished a close-up third to Menorah.

Dunguib: the bumper star and top novice hurdler for whom it all went wrong

Boston Bob (6-5, Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle, 2012)

Boston Bob: had a big reputation as a novice hurdler

Landed all three 2m4f hurdles in good style for Willie Mullins after moving from Howard Johnson, earning banker status and a starting price of 6-5 for the Albert Bartlett Novice Hurdle. 

The better ground at Cheltenham seemed to be his undoing as, despite staying on gamely after not travelling with much zest on the final circuit, he could not overhaul the Lucinda Russell-trained Brindisi Breeze.

Min (15-8, Supreme Novices' Hurdle, 2016)

Min: was all the rage but bumped into a certain Altior

Entered the ante-post Cheltenham markets before making his Irish debut with reports of him working the house down at home, and he looked an exciting prospect when hacking up in two Punchestown contests.

Was the banker of day one at the festival for many but, unfortunately for his connections and favourite backers, he bumped into Altior, who beat him by seven lengths in what was a cracking contest.

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It was to be Like-A-Butterfly who came out on top to the joy of the Irish as he held off second-favourite Westender by a neck
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