Morgiana Hurdle Tips: Saldier offers plenty of value

Saldier impressed when winning this race last year.
Saldier impressed when winning this race last year.

Nick Seddon previews Sunday’s Grade 1 Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown, and picks out his best bet in the race…

While most eyes will undoubtedly be on Cheltenham’s November Meeting this weekend, there’s an excellent two-day meeting on the other side of the Irish Sea at Punchestown, which is headlined by the Grade 1 Morgiana Hurdle. 

Seen as a strong early season indicator for the Champion Hurdle next March, the Morgiana is a popular starting point for some of Ireland’s best hurdlers, and two winners of this race have gone on to follow up at the Festival this century. 

It regularly proves to be a tight betting heat, and heading the market at the time of writing is last season’s County Hurdle winner, Saint Roi. A lightly-raced type, the five-year-old improved at a rate of knots in his three starts for Willie Mullins last season, building on an impressive maiden success at Tramore in January by storming to a four and a half length victory on handicap debut at the Festival. 

He was a long way ahead of his mark that day, and that Cheltenham form has worked out particularly well since, with the runner-up, his stablemate Aramon, producing a high-class performance to win the Galway Hurdle off top weight in July. It didn't take Saint Roi long to prove that he's more than at home in Graded company, either, and he extended his winning sequence to three when comfortably winning a Grade 3 contest on reappearance at Tipperary last month. He’s entitled to try his hand at this level now, and has strong clams here bearing that he is open to more improvement yet after just five career starts over timber, though he will almost certainly need a career best effort take this, and looks short enough in the betting as an even money favourite - on what's his toughest task to date.

The second favourite in the betting is the Supreme Novices' Hurdle runner-up Abacadabras, who represents the Gordon Elliott team. A Grade 1 winner as a novice last year, Abacadrabas has some smart form under his belt, and will arrive here fit after finishing second on reappearance in the Grade 2 WKD Hurdle at Down Royal at the beginning of the month. He is entitled to come on for that run here, and would be a serious threat if replicating his performance in the Supreme, though he was ultimately well held by Aspire Tower last time out, and will need more to take this. 

Three more who are set to line up are Coeur Sublime, Jason The Militant and Supasundae. The last-named is a three-time winner at Grade 1 level, including over course and distance in April 2018, and he'd have claims if bringing his best form to the table. However, he's rising 11 these days, and struggled on reappearance at Navan last week.

Coeur Sublime is a smart performer on his day, winning last year's WKD Hurdle at Down Royal, and although he's lightly-raced for his age, he was down the field in the Champion Hurdle in March, and would need plenty more here. Meanwhile, Jason The Militant was a Grade 2 winner as a novice at Naas in February, though was well held on reappearance at that level last month, and he would need a career best if he is to strike.  

Instead, it looks worth siding with Saint Roi's stablemate Saldier at the prices, who's aiming to win this race for the second year running. Saldier has had no luck with injuries over the past couple of years, but when he has made the track he has certainly made an impact, and looked to have the measure of a future Champion Hurdle winner in Espoir d'Allen when falling at the last in a Grade 3 contest at Naas two starts ago in November 2018.

We've seen him just once since, when accounting for a smart field that included Sharjah, Klassical Dream and Petit Mouchoir in good style in this race 12 months ago. He sets a clear standard on that form, and bearing in mind that he won this off the back of a similar absence last year, he looks a good bet at 5/1 to win this for the second year running.

Selection

Morgiana Hurdle, Punchestown, Sunday 15th November - back Saldier at 5/1

Morgiana Hurdle
Saldier silk

Saldier

Non-Runner
2021 Cheltenham Festival
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