Unlike recent years, Willie Mullins doesn’t appear to have a big buzz horse in his yard that has bookmakers quaking in their boots so, for once, it may pay to look elsewhere in the ante-post markets to find some value for this event.

Having trained many high-profile and strongly fancied runners for this race in recent times (L’Ami Serge, Josses Hill, My Tent Or Yours, Oscar Whiskey and Spirit Son all spring to mind), Nicky Henderson finally snapped a 24-year losing spell when Altior landed the festival curtain raiser in spectacular fashion last season, and in the shape of JENKINS (best price 12-1), the Seven Barrows handler could well have another cab off the rank.

Bought at the Land Rover sale last year, the son of Azamour was aimed at the bumper it that company’s name following a smooth success at Newbury on rules debut, and although he failed to pull off the well-hatched plan, the way he travelled throughout that contest left an indelible mark on anyone who witnessed that race at the Co Kildare venue. Oozing class from flag fall, the imposing four-year-old looked all over the winner when he swept into a big lead rounding the home turn, but just as connections were counting the Euros, he succumbed to the late thrust of Coeur De Lion in the dying strides. In hindsight, he probably hit the front too soon around that galloping track and although it would have been disappointing to lose the race in a such fashion, huge lessons will have been learnt in defeat.

Said to have done really well over the summer with Sprinter Sacre at Juliet Minton’s, there’s real hope in the yard that he can develop into a smart recruit to the novice hurdling ranks, and given that he’s already raced around the Berkshire venue and his handler usually introduces his best young talent at his local track, a victory at the Hennessy meeting should set him on the right path which will hopefully end up at Cheltenham in March.

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Jenkins
Supreme Novices Hurdle
1pt E/W
8/1
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