The Paul Nicholls-trained Saphir Du Rheu has been a notable market mover of late in the betting on Cheltenham for the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle Festival in March, now trading at a best price of 10/1, having been available at double those odds only a few days earlier, writes Elliot Slater.
The lightly raced four-year-old had just the one race in his native France before being purchased by Andy Stewart and sent to Nicholls’ Ditcheat yard, but that one outing was a sound effort in finishing an eye-catching third of 16 in a listed hurdle at Auteuil in September.
Sent off a 10/11 favourite to make a winning British debut when contesting the Q Associates Juvenile Hurdle at Newbury in November, Saphir De Rheu showed signs of greenness and looked as though the run would bring him on.
He eventually came home third of the eight runners behind Vasco d’Ycy, experience he subsequently put to good use when looking rather more the finished article at Taunton in January, as he slammed God of the Kop by 11 lengths in heavy ground to land the Castle Hotel in Taunton Novices Hurdle.
Seemingly well thought of by Nicholls, the grey son of Al Namix has just the one entry to date at Cheltenham and that is in the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle.
Based on what he has achieved so far, it is not at all beyond the bounds of ability that the handicapper might find it difficult getting to grips with the French import’s true level of ability.
The fact that there has been sustained support for him with all horseracing firms seems to indicate that connections are optimistic that they will have at least a sporting chance of landing the spoils in the coveted juvenile two-mile cavalry charge.