Supreme Novices Hurdle Tips - 1.30pm Cheltenham

Leading Contenders

The Supreme Novices Hurdle marks the beginning of the Cheltenham Festival and in recent times it has been a very good race for the Irish raiders.

For the many thousand travelling Irish supporters nothing less than another victory will do and they will be looking towards Willie Mullins or Gordon Elliott to provide the key to the race.

Mullins won it from 2103-15 with Champagne Fever, Vautour and Douvan, all owned by the Ricci family but last year Gordon Elliott produced a shock when 25/1 outsider Labaik got the better of the Mullins favourite Melon.

The Closutton handler will no doubt be mob handed as usual but the word is that Getabird is the number one hope this year. The Ricci’s often buy from France but this 6yo came from the point-to-point circuit.

He won his bumper debut by 12 lengths and his hurdles debut by 7 lengths. Next time out he stepped up in class and comfortably took the Grade 2 Moscow Flyer Hurdle by 9 lengths, beating the highly regarded Mengli Khan in the process.

He’s a typical front running hurdler and is expected to be even better on quicker ground, which he should get at Cheltenham. It’s touch and go whether Ruby Walsh will be back to ride him but he looks sure to start favourite whoever is lucky enough to get the leg-up.

Stable mate Sharjah has done little wrong since he went hurdling in September. He came over from France and the 5yo has won two of his three starts for Mullins. Next time out he looked to be getting the upper hand in a Grade 1 contest before coming down at the last. That is good form and I think there is more to come from him although his lacklustre effort at Leopardstown needs forgiving.

A third Willie Mullins runner to look at is Real Steel; he won at Thurles on his Irish debut after coming over from France and then was pitched in at the deep end next time at Leopardstown in Grade 1 company.

He was still in with every chance when coming down at the last and if nothing else it showed he had improved markedly from his first run. A decent 5th behind Samcro last time was ok and he could easily step forward again and if he does he could go well here.

Gordon Elliott with the backing of the Gigginstown Stud will be out to try and emulate Labaik’s success of 12 months ago; the obvious one amongst their entries is Mengli Khan.

The 5yo was rated 96 when trained on the flat by Hugo Palmer and has won three times since switching to Elliott. He suffered a setback when crashing through the wing at Leopardstown at Christmas and then was brushed aside by Getabird at Punchestown.

He needs to get back on track but could turn out to be a much better hurdler on better ground being a flat bred speedy sort and it’s too early to write him off.

Stable mate Samcro is currently favourite for the Ballymore Hurdle on Wednesday but if he was re-routed here he would be a leading contender. The 6yo won his first three hurdle races with an aggregate of 44 lengths and that included a Grade 3 contest at Navan in November.

He’s obviously a very talented individual and could have more to offer the further he goes. He bolted up at Leopardstown last time over two miles but connections are adamant he will run over the longer trip at the Festival.

Nicky Henderson won the Supreme a couple of years ago with Altior, his third victory in the contest but his first for 24 years. His 6yo Claimantakinforgan is 2/3 over hurdles so far and looks the yards first string. He actually ran here at the Festival last year in the Champion Bumper where he was a very good third. He began his career in the point to point field and won over three miles so down the line he looks like he will be jumping the bigger obstacles.

Effortless victories at Newbury and Ascot over hurdles have catapulted him to the top end of the ante-post market and whilst he hasn’t beaten a great deal I’m sure there is more to come.

Another unbeaten hurdler is the Harry Fry trained If The Cap Fits owned by Paul and Clare Rooney. He started off by winning a couple of average novice hurdles and then stepped up in class to win at Kempton on Boxing Day, he wants good decent ground to show his best and looks an exciting prospect.

He actually finished in front of Claimantakingforgan in the big bumper race at Aintree last April when fourth to Lalor, to date that’s the only time he has tasted defeat in six career starts under rules.

Kalashnikov has to be considered after stepping up and taking the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury recently off a mark of 141. He would have to be better than that bare form to win here but is obviously goinbg the right way for trainer Amy Murphy.

Local trainer Kim Bailey wouldn’t be known for his speedy hurdlers, he’s more of a staying chaser type. In First Flow he has a promising 6yo on his hands and has won novice races at Lingfield, Newbury and a Grade 2 contest at Haydock. His last two victories have come in heavy ground so it could be that he needs a bit of cut show his form. I’m sure it wont be long before we see him jump a fence but deserves a crack at this along the way

Supreme Novices Hurdle Runners

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Supreme Novices Hurdle Trends

Supreme Novices Previous Winners

Year Winner Age Jockey Trainer SP
2017 Labaik 6 Jack Kennedy Gordon Elliott 25/1
2016 Altior 6 Nico de Boinville Nicky Henderson 4/1
2015 Douvan 5 Ruby Walsh Willie Mullins 2/1
2014 Vautour 5 Ruby Walsh Willie Mullins 7/2
2013 Champagne Fever 6 Ruby Walsh Willie Mullins 5/1
2012 Cinders And Ashes 5 Jason Maguire Donald McCain 10/1
2011 Al Ferof 6 Ruby Walsh Paul Nicholls 10/1
2010 Menorah 5 Richard Johnson Philip Hobbs 12/1
2009 Go Native 6 Paul Carberry Noel Meade 12/1
2008 Captain Cee Bee 7 Robert Thornton Eddie Harty 17/2

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