Steel is ready to rule supreme in Cheltenham Festival opener
Sky Bet are already non-runner-no-bet on the Supreme
Sky Bet, sponsors of the Supreme Novices Hurdle, have dangled an irresistible ante-post offer by going non-runner-no-bet on next year's renewal of the two-mile Cheltenham opener.
Immediately what stands out in their book is that Willie Mullins's shortest-priced entry is the 10-1 shot Real Steel.
You can argue that none of the Mullins-trained novices have set the world alight this season, but this is the same trainer who has dominated the race in recent times, winning the race in 2013, 2014 and 2015 and saddling the runner-up in the last two years – both of whom were sent off as market leaders.
At present, Gordon Elliott's Mengli Khan is top of the tree amongst the novices' in Ireland. He's been impressive in his three starts, yet the Paddy Power Future Champions Novice Hurdle is just around the corner and Mullins's has plenty of entries, including Real Steel who looks an ideal horse for the Leopardstown feature.
Mullins has been responsible for the last two winners of that race and he's not afraid to throw horses at it. When Long Dog won in 2015, he had four, and last season he had two. There's every possibility Reel Steel will lock horns with Mengli Khan and a turn-up, or even a closely fought finish could flip this market on it's head.
He beat a Gigginstown House Stud-owned horse called Daly Tiger, and many, including myself, felt Daly Tiger had Grade 1 potential after he won his bumper with ease.
Real Steel didn't just beat him, he brushed him aside jumping the last and was well on top at the finish. It was the best maiden hurdle I've seen run in Ireland this season and he's open to any amount of progress as the season unfolds into the spring. He also looks the sharpest novice to emerge from Closutton this campaign.
Read Cathal Gahan every week in the Racing Post Weekender