The second of the week's influential novice hurdles this one for more staying types and run over 2M 5F, and the first thing to say is that it has been dominated by horses that are aged five and six. They have won the last 12 renewals and 17 of the last 18 – the only exception coming in 1998 when French Holly triumphed for the older brigade but generally they pay to ignore in this contest.
In form horses have also been the ones to keep on-side in the Neptune, just one of the last 28 winners did not finish in the first two last time out and the class of race is also important where it really pays to avoid those animals coming from a Class 4 race or less, over 117 have tried to and none has been successful. Those searching for horse racing betting tips should remember this.
The most influential guide to the race has been the Deloitte Hurdle over 2m2f at Leopardstown on Irish Hennessy Day which Danoli, Istabraq and Hardy Eustace all contested before winning this prize but in more recent times the Grade 1 Navan Novices' Hurdle won this season by Boston Bob has a better record with a winner and runner-up going on to win the Neptune in the last six years. Boston Bob heads the betting for this year's Neptune and although he has an alternative engagement in the Albert Barlett Novices' Hurdle over 3M, he will probably come here especially with the doubt over his main rival – Fingal Bay – participation at the moment due to injury. Fans of Cheltenham betting should bear this in mind.
The Neptune is another of the races at the Festival where it pays to keep the Irish challenge on your side, they have taken four of the last six runnings and look to hold a strong hand gain this year, this may be due to the fact that NH bred horses do far better in this event than those that are flat bred and experience in bumper races is another important facet of any runners make-up.
Speaking of trainers, Willie Mullins trains Boston Bob and he took back-to-back runnings of this contest in 2008 and 2009, so his runners always command plenty of respect, but we would be wary of anything that Nicky Henderson saddles in this, he has a 0-23 record in the race and has only had two runners finish higher than tenth since 1990.