The opening two-mile contest of the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival 2023 is often run at a furious gallop, and it has often paid to sit in behind any frontrunner in recent years. Constitution Hill, Appreciate It, Shishkin, and Klassical Dream have all come from off the pace to win in the past four years.
Leading trainer, Willie Mullins has a fantastic record in the race and has taken the coveted prize back across the Irish Sea on no fewer than seven occasions. Statistics show that horses need to have run at least twice so far this season and no winner in the last twenty renewals has won with any headgear (cheekpieces, visor or tongue-tie).
Previous Winners of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle
|2022||Constitution Hill||5||Nicky Henderson||Nico De Boinville|
|2021||Appreciate It||7||Willie Mullins||Paul Townend|
|2020||Shishkin||6||Nicky Henderson||Nico De Boinville|
|2019||Klassical Dream||5||Willie Mullins||Ruby Walsh|
|2018||Summerville Boy||6||Tom George||Noel Fehily|
|2017||Labaik||6||Gordon Elliott||Jack Kennedy|
|2016||Altior||6||Nicky Henderson||Nico De Boinville|
|2015||Douvan||5||Willie Mullins||Ruby Walsh|
|2014||Vautour||5||Willie Mullins||Ruby Walsh|
|2013||Champagne Fever||6||Willie Mullins||Ruby Walsh|
|2012||Cinders And Ashes||5||Donald McCain||Jason Maguire|
Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle Runners
Facile Vega (155)
Trainer: Willie Mullins
Jockey: Paul Townend
Was far too keen for his own good when last seen in the Tattersalls Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown. Uncharacteristically he made a few errors and folded tamely two from home. The jockey came in for criticism and justifiably so. Willie Mullins is a master at bringing the good ones back and being a son of Quevega, this boy is all talent. He is a previous winner here as he took the champion bumper last season. Stats are against him but he will take some beating if back on song.
Marine Nationale (150)
Trainer: Barry Connell
Jockey: Michael O’Sullivan
Hasn’t been seen since winning the Royal Bond at Fairyhouse back in December where he beat Irish Point by a head. That form on its own is not spectacular and the runner-up has been readily brushed aside on a couple of occasions since. The stable think the world of him though and he comes here unbeaten. This looks to be the toughest field he has ever faced and a lack of experience at Cheltenham may count against him too.
Il Etait Temps (155)
Trainer: Willie Mullins
Jockey: Danny Mullins
Caused a massive shock at the Dublin Racing Festival by finishing some twenty lengths ahead of his much-preferred stablemate Facile Vega. He travelled supremely well from off a strong pace and gathered up his rivals some way from home. He ran on to record a nearly ten-length victory over Inthepocket. He is certainly improving at a rate of knots and a fast run race could well set this up for him yet again. Four previous winners of the Tattersalls Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown have followed up here at Cheltenham within the last decade including Champagne Fever, Vautour, Klassical Dream and Appreciate It. If he has strengthened up again, he will prove a force to be reckoned with.
Trainer: Paul Nicholls
Jockey: Harry Cobden
Tahmuras is a proven Grade One winner and looks to be riding on the crest of a wave for Paul Nicholls. Unbeaten in three starts since going hurdling, the six-year-old looks to be the Ditcheat handler’s best chance of winning this race since Al Ferof back in 2011. The form of that most recent race has been franked by Nemean Lion who won a Grade 2 Novices’ Hurdle just the other day and he certainly has strong each-way claims.
High Definition (Unrated)
Trainer: Joseph O’Brien
Jockey: JJ Slevin
He won on his debut for Joseph O’Brien in a pleasing fashion and got the better of Jetara. He was upped in grade but made costly errors and unseated his rider in no uncertain terms in the Tattersalls Novices’ Hurdle. He would really need to brush up his jumping and he departed too early to determine how much of a say he would have had in the finish. This course takes no prisoners and any flaws in his ability will be found out. This looks too big an ask at this stage.
Chasing Fire (136)
Trainer: Olly Murphy
Jockey: Aidan Coleman
Has been an impressive winner of all three starts so far this season. His wins have all been at a much lower level than any of his rivals and the form has been badly let down by the runner-up subsequently. He is still open to any amount of improvement though and if he was trained by Henderson or Mullins he would be a much shorter price. Whatever he does here he will learn from and he can go on to bigger and brighter things next year.
Rare Edition (138)
Trainer: Charlie Longsdon
Jockey: Sam Twiston-Davies
He had looked progressive earlier in the year but his tendency to jump right got him turned over at Huntingdon last time. If he does that here he will be in big trouble early on. Having been beaten in listed company last time he does look up against it here. Charlie Longsdon has only ever trained six winners at this course since 2011 and all have been at a much lower level. Rare Edition may be one of the best he has ever trained but that still doesn’t look good enough.
Trainer: Willie Mullins
Jockey: Paddy Mullins
Was a wide-margin winner at Punchestown when last seen out at the end of January. Despite beating the likes of Mon Couer and Slanagaibhgoleir, nothing from the race has come out to frank the form which is very disappointing. This looks a lot more difficult than the opposition he faced last time and both Danny Mullins and Paul Townend prefer their chances over him. That has to say a lot and he is readily passed over.
Trainer: Henry De Bromhead
Jockey: Rachael Blackmore
Was no match for Il Etait Temps in the Tattersalls Novices’ Hurdle at the Dublin Racing Festival last month. The yard has been struggling for form all year so it was a positive performance. Connections left it to the very last minute to declare him for this but he should be able to make the frame if further improvement comes. He relishes testing ground so if the rain continues to come it will bring him into the picture further.
Doctor Bravo (140)
Trainer: Gordon Elliott
Jockey: Davy Russell
Has yet to finish outside the first three places in any start and lost his maiden status over hurdles at Down Royal back in January. He was then upped in class into Grade 3 company and he ran well finishing third to stablemate Fil D’Or. He would take to take another massive leap forward to think that he could be in with troubling the best of these. Likely to run well for a while before fading in the closing stages.
Dark Raven (145)
Trainer: Willie Mullins
Jockey: Daryl Jacob
Perhaps given a little too much to do last time when beaten by both Il Etait Temps and Inthepocket at the Dublin Racing Festival. He looked like taking the runner-up spot but fluffed his chance at the second last flight of hurdles. A stronger gallop is likely to be on the agenda here and that may well suit him better. Not out of this by any means and could well be the proverbial dark horse in the line-up.
Strong Leader (133)
Trainer: Olly murphy
Jockey: Sean Bowen
Runner-up to Encanto Bruno in a bumper round here back in October. Since then he has gone on a three-race unbeaten run winning a further two bumpers at Uttoxeter and Aintree. He also made a winning debut over hurdles at Southwell but this will take a massive leap forward. The yard are in fantastic form though and no surprise if he defies his likely long odds to pass a few of these when they have cried enough.
Fennor Cross (134)
Trainer: John McConnell
Jockey: Simon Torrens
Is a smart dual-purpose performer and has already scored twice over this course and distance including in Grade 2 company. He has not been seen in action since mid-November, but he has won after similar breaks in the past so is unlikely to be found wanting for fitness. If the major players fail to run their race he could well take full advantage. He is interesting all the same and he will likely have better days ahead of him.
Palace Boy (125)
Trainer: Fergal O’Brien
Jockey: Paddy Brennan
Firmly put in his place by Luccia in a Novices’ Hurdle last month. That is a level below what is required here and he looks completely out of his depth. Will be truly found out in this company.
7/4 Facile Vega , 7/2 Marine Nationale , 5/1 Il Etait Temps , 8/1 Tahmuras , 12/1 High Definition , 16/1 Diverge , 20/1 Dark Raven , 20/1 Chasing Fire , 20/1 Inthepocket , 20/1 Doctor Bravo , 25/1 Rare Edition, 33/1 Strong Leader , 50/1 Fennor Cross , 150/1 Palace Boy
Key Trends For The Supreme Novices’ Hurdle
- 9 of the past 10 winners won last time out.
- 6 of the past 8 winners were rated 153+.
- 8 of the last 10 winners were trained by Willie Mullins or Nicky Henderson.
Supreme Novices’ Hurdle Tips
IL ETAIT TEMPS could well be the answer to this tricky puzzle. There was no fluke about the manner of his last win in top-class company during the Dublin Racing Festival. With Facile Vega now having a cloud hanging over him following his blow-out in the same race, he will have competition for the lead here and that could put him in an uncomfortable position.
The winner of the Tattersalls Novices’ Hurdle has won this four times in the last decade and all were trained by Willie Mullins. Paul Nicholls can take comfort in the fact that he has a Grade One winner in the shape of Tahmuras. His recent win was given a significant boost at Kelso quite recently and he may outrun his double-priced odds.
Selection: IL ETAIT TEMPS @ 9/2 with Bet365
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