Blessings in disguise have seldom turned out so satisfying. Mengli Khan started the season a maiden over hurdles following two failed attempts at Fairyhouse but now he is favourite for the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle after returning to the track to pick up his first Grade 1 in emphatic fashion. A fluke or a fabulous piece of training by Gordon Elliott?
Perhaps it is a fabulous piece of training by Elliott as Mengli Khan was not seen after February 25 last term, with Elliott resisting the temptation of picking up an end-of-season maiden hurdle with his eyes shut. He saw the bigger picture.
That bigger picture is now the Supreme Novices' Hurdle. Paddy Power halved him in price for the 2018 Cheltenham Festival opener and he is now their 6-1 favourite. He is a general 7-1 shot with other firms, with race sponsors Sky Bet offering 8-1 in the immediate aftermath.
Elliott, who had never won the race before, said: "I have to admit I was disappointed with him last year so we said we'd keep him as a novice for this season. He could be a better horse on better ground and is a two-miler, which we don't have too many of. Gigginstown buy big three-mile chasers but it’s nice to have a few of them as well.
"We will probably have a look at something over Christmas. He'll stick to two miles. He's a big horse and Hugo Palmer did some job to get him to the track as a two-year-old. With the ear plugs on today he nearly switched off too much but he's a good horse and is learning all the time."
Jack Kennedy was impressed with Mengli Khan from the second-last, as he scooted clear of Early Doors and went on to win by five and a half lengths, with Hardline a further 15 lengths back in third.
Kennedy said: "He was very good. He settled and jumped great. When I got upsides Mark Walsh going to the second-last he picked up and went on well from there. I was always very confident on him, he's a good horse."