The Irish Novices look to have the edge in the hurdle races this year with Dunguib the banker in the Supreme Novices Hurdle on the first day of the festival in three weeks. His presence has meant that potential competitors will look elsewhere including Rite of Passage who will now go for the Nuptune Novies on the Wednesday.
Rite Of Passage, trained by Dermot Weld and third to Dunguib at The Festival last year, has the 100,000 Neptune Investment Management Novices Hurdle over two miles and five furlongs on Wednesday, March 17, as his principal target and the six-year-old is one of 69 acceptors for that event. With his weight-adjusted rating of 161p, Rite Of Passage is joint top-rated by Timeform along with Get Me Out Of Here, who convincingly defeated seasoned handicappers in the totesport Trophy at Newbury, and the smart Paul Nicholls-trained French import Najaf.
The championship contest for four-year-old hurdlers is the 100,000 JCB Triumph Hurdle on Friday, March 19, for which 51 contenders go forward. Timeform currently has two Irish-trained horses heading the ratings for the two-mile race, headed by Edward OGradys recent impressive Grade Two scorer Alaivan on 164p. Alaivan was previously defeated by Carlito Brigante, trained by Gordon Elliott and second highest-rated by Timeform on 163p.