Friday’s race of the day – Will the favourite be denied in Ascot’s Supreme Trial?

Jon Vine takes a look at each of the four runners in the Grade Two Kennel Gate Hurdle at Ascot and provides readers with his tips in Friday’s race of the day on Friday 20th December.

Testing ground has led to disappointing turn outs in both of the Grade Twos at Ascot on Friday. With only two runners to look at in the Noel Novices’ Chase, it’s the Supreme Trial – listed as the Kennel Gate Novices’ Hurdle – that I’ve selected as today’s race of the day and, as part of our Daily Tips service, I’ve taken a look through the field to find my best bet.

Friday’s Race Of The Day

Master Debonair

Beat Thyme Hill in a Listed bumper at Cheltenham last autumn. Was beaten on his return to the track as he made his hurdles debut in October, losing out to Heaven Help Us, who has hardly boosted that form since. Ground out a seven-length triumph here at Ascot last month, beating some useful sorts quite convincingly. Has to carry a three-pound penalty in this Grade Two, but could still be a factor.

McFabulous

Ended last season with two excellent wins in bumpers. First over Faustinovick at Newbury, before scoring in the Grade Two bumper at Aintree’s Grand National Festival. Carried an odds-on price into his hurdles bow, but was beaten four lengths on the day. Was clearly in need of the run, as many of Paul Nicholls’ are on their first starts, but the form of that race isn’t good and I’m not convinced heavy ground will suit.

Master Debonair (left) finishes second on first start over hurdles at Cheltenham.

Ribble Valley

Three-from-three since finishing sixth behind Master Debonair in a bumper last November. Won a flat race at Ayr on final start of last season and bolted up in two novice hurdles in November. Won by nine-lengths on heavy ground on his reappearance, before cruising to an eleven length triumph over some decent hurdlers on most recent run at Wetherby. Going right-handed is an unknown, but ground conditions are firmly in his favour and his jumping has been faultless so far.

Time Flies By

Has only run in two bumpers so far, winning nicely at Cheltenham before a shock-loss to Isreal Champ, who’ll carry the tag of favouritism into the card-closing Listed flat race on Friday. Nicky Henderson has been impressed enough with his schooling to throw him into a Grade Two on his hurdles debut. Won on heavy at Cheltenham and stable’s novice hurdlers are going well.

Verdict

Out of the four runners here, I think McFabulous is the best long-term contender in for the Supreme. Sadly, he hasn’t been seen since losing in a poor novice hurdle at Chepstow in October and I can’t see this speedy sort enjoying the ground.

Ribble Valley will probably have the beating of Master Debonair, who will have to give the field three pounds. Everything seems to be pointing towards a Ribble Valley victory and, with the favourite sitting on 4/5, this looks a no-bet sort of race for me.

If I was to place a speculative tenner on any of the four runners, it would probably be TIME FLIES BY (7/1 Unibet). Nicky Henderson’s horses have been flying this month and his young hurdlers have been in particularly good nick. Time Flies By has winning form on heavy ground and he’s a half-brother to several good-quality jumpers. I wouldn’t be surprised to see back-marker of the four challenge for the win.

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