Supreme aim for Bunk Off Early
Bunk Off Early appears to have booked his ticket to the Cheltenham Festival after running a race full of promise in the Deloitte Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown.
Bunk Off Early (grey): Heading for the Sky Bet Supreme
A winner at the track on his hurdling debut over Christmas, the roan gelding was one of six runners in the Grade One contest for champion trainer Willie Mullins.
The Supreme Horse Racing Club-owned five-year-old looked the likely winner after cruising to the front in the home straight, but was worn down by his more streetwise stable companion Bacardys.
Bunk Off Early is as short as 10/1 for the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle and the Festival curtain-raiser is his likely next objective.
Steve Massey, racing manager for the owners, said: "We're absolutely over the moon with him. He ran a fantastic race considering how keen he was.
"He jumped great and Paul (Townend) said he just wanted to go after every hurdle.
"He travelled better than anything into the straight and just got outstayed on the ground.
"He should learn plenty from the run and coming back to two miles on better ground will be perfect.
"It looks like the Supreme is the race for him and while I'm not saying he'll win, he'll go there with a big chance."
Bunk Off Early is set to be part of a small but select team of runners at Prestbury Park for the burgeoning syndicate.
The unbeaten Airlie Beach is a hot favourite for the Trull House Stud Mares' Novices' Hurdle, while the promising Kemboy could contest either the Neptune or the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle.
"It's hugely exciting for the club. The build-up is nearly as exciting as the race itself," said Massey.
"Whether you've got 5 per cent in a horse or 20 per cent in a horse, we want to get everyone involved and fingers crossed we get them all there safe and sound.
"I'm hoping I won't get any unwanted phone calls from Willie in the next four weeks."
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