Klassical Dream followed up his Cheltenham Festival triumph in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle with a dominant victory in the Herald Champion Novice Hurdle at Punchestown, a success which saw him cur across the board by bookmakers in the ante post betting for the 2020 Champion Hurdle.
He is as short as 4/1, and favourite with some firms, and a top priced 6/1 second favourite with William Hill. History, however, suggests the odds against him completing the Supreme/Champion double are against him.
It’s been nearly 50 years since a horse won the Supreme and went on to capture glory in the Champion Hurdle the following year – the last to do so being Bula in 1970/71. So does Klassical Dream have what it takes to follow in that horses’ footsteps?
I believe that there is a case to be made for him to do just that on what I saw in a stellar 2018/19 campaign for the Willie Mullins trained five-year-old.
Taken Forn to a New Level
Klassical Dream had some very smart form to his name when trained in France, including a fine fourth in a Grade 1. However, since joining Mullins in November 2018 he has taken his game to a new level and is unbeaten in four outings.
After landing a 20-runner maiden hurdle at Leopardstown he was pitched straight into Grade 1 company and showed tremendous battling qualities to get the better of stable companion Aramon by a neck.
He then put in a remarkable display in the Supreme where he tanked along and jumped extremely well towards the head of affairs before quickening effortlessly to score easily by 4 1/2 lengths from Thomas Darby.
Klassical Dream tugged Ruby Walsh’s arms out throughout the Grade 1 two mile contest, so to finish off the race in which he did suggested he was something special.
Strong Traveller with Potent Turn of Foot
That view was confirmed when he settled a bit better in the Herald at Punchestown before shooting clear to slam Felix Desjy, who had previously won a Grade 1 at Aintree, by 5 1/4 lengths.
In both the Supreme and the Herald, Klassical Dream travelled on the bridle throughout and jumped slickly before showing a devastating turn of foot to put the race to bed. Those are the perfect attributes needed to win a Champion Hurdle.
Many thought that he would go novice chasing next season, as most recent winners of the Supreme have done. So the fact that Mullins has decided not to go down that route speaks volumes and shows how highly he is regarded.
Speaking after Klassical Dream’s win in the Herald, the master of Closutton told Racing TV: “Ruby said he was too settled and was not as pleased as he was in Cheltenham, but I thought in Cheltenham he just ran very free.
“You can’t keep racing like that and I was much happier with today’s performance, albeit the second horse has been to Cheltenham and Aintree and had two very hard races. He’s a fair machine and I’m happy to stay over hurdles and try to make a Champion Hurdle horse out of him. I think he could be good enough, so we’ll see.”
Those words give hope that Klassical Dream could be the real deal in the 2019/20 season. He has achieved so much in so little time since joining Mullins that it’s frightening to think of what he could potentially be capable of.
In the Right Hands
Klassical Dream has also shown his ability to cope with various types of going ranging from good to testing soft ground. That is another plus, as is the fact that he is trained by a master who knows what it’s required to win the Champion Hurdle.
Mullins has won the feature race on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival four times in the last nine years thanks to start like Hurricane Fly (2011/13), Faugheen (2015) and Annie Power (2016).
Klassical Dream has a long way to go to reach the dizzy heights that trio achieved, but he has a superstar quality about him and it would be no surprise to see him become the major force in the two mnile hurdling division next season – and land the Champion Hurdle in the process.