Finian’s Oscar (yellow) is 41 for the Neptune and 20-1 for the Supreme
PICTURE: Getty Images
By David Milnes 10:58AM 12 FEB 2017
THE exciting Finian’s Oscar looks to be tasked with no more than a conversion in front of the goal posts to extend his unbeaten run to four at Exeter, but his trainer Colin Tizzard is hoping he can provide some sort of clue as to which race he should aim for at the Cheltenham Festival.
It is a race Tizzard won two years ago with Gold Cup second favourite Native River, while Spirit Son, Melodic Rendezvous, Vibrato Valtat and Politologue are the other horses to have won the race in the last five years.
The Potts’s ex-Irish pointer may be short on experience but he certainly hasn’t looked it in two wins under rules, most recently when running out a smooth winner of the Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown last month.
Not many winners of that contest pitch up under an 8lb penalty in this Listed test, but Tizzard is eager to find out a bit more about his rising star before a decision is made on which race he turns out in at Cheltenham next month.
The five-year-old, who is the only one of today’s six-runner field to have won over jumps, is a general 4-1 favourite for the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle and as short as 7-1 for the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle with the race sponsors, who are non-runner, no bet, while he is a best-priced 20-1 among those firms not offering any concession.
Tizzard said: “He’s just about frightened them all off, and on all known form you would think he’ll take all the beating. He’s a lovely young horse and we’ve had no issues with him whatsoever.”
Neptune or Supreme?
On the Cheltenham question, the Dorset-based trainer added: “People would know more than me about whether we should be aiming at the Supreme or the Neptune. He’s 4-1 favourite for the Neptune and a big price for the Supreme, but is that because people think he won’t run in the Supreme?
“He soon shot clear at Sandown before staying on up the hill and he does look like a stayer, so the easiest option would be the Neptune.”
Any decision may well be down to other factors. Tizzard said: “I suppose we’ll see what the handicapper says. He’s the one who knows best. If we have five pounds in hand in one of the races but five pounds to find in the other that will probably tell us what we should do. That will probably be the deciding factor – but he has to win this first.”