Supreme Novices’ Hurdle

The Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle takes place at 1.30pm on Day 1 (Tuesday) and opens the Cheltenham Festival. The race will be broadcast on ITV and Racing TV (RTV). It marks the beginning of the season-defining four days of the jumps season and the start of the race is welcomed by the famous Cheltenham roar.

The likes of Altior, Douvan and Vautour have won the Supreme in recent years before winning races such as the Racing Post Arkle, Queen Mother Champion Chase and the Ryanair Chase at the festival in following seasons.

Length of race – The race is run over 2m½f.
Where to watch – ITV and RTV.
When to watch – Tuesday, March 12 at 1.30pm.
Prize-money – Last year’s race was worth £125,000.
Course – The race is run on the Old course at Cheltenham.
Race type – The Supreme Novices’ Hurdle is a Grade 1 for novices only, meaning horses who have won over hurdles in previous seasons are unable to compete.
Weights – Most horses will run off level weights carrying 11st 7lb, with mares getting an allowance of 7lb. Four-year-olds get an allowance of 8lb.
Ages – Horses aged four or older can compete in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. Most runners are typically aged five or older.
Sponsor – Sky Bet have sponsored the race since 2014.

 

Past ten winners:

 

Year Horse Previous form Age Price Trainer Jockey
2018 Summerville Boy 1-2231 6 9-1 Tom George Noel Fehily
2017 Labaik 11RR6 6 25-1 Gordon Elliott Jack Kennedy
2016 Altior 6-1111 6 4-1 Nicky Henderson Nico de Boinville
2015 Douvan 21-11 5 2-1F Willie Mullins Ruby Walsh
2014 Vautour 22-111 5 7-2JF Willie Mullins Ruby Walsh
2013 Champagne Fever 1-1231 6 5-1 Willie Mullins Ruby Walsh
2012 Cinders And Ashes 0-2111 5 10-1 Donald McCain Jason Maguire
2011 Al Ferof 2-F311 6 10-1 Paul Nicholls Ruby Walsh
2010 Menorah 11212 5 12-1 Philip Hobbs Richard Johnson
2009 Go Native 12121 6 12-1 Noel Meade Paul Carberry

 

Race statistics

  • Adjusted RPR of at least 150, 9/10
  • Ran within the last 59 days, 9/10
  • Previously contested a Graded race, 9/10 (eight won)
  • Won at least 50 per cent of hurdle starts, 8/10
  • Won last time out, 8/10
  • Rated within 8lb of RPR top-rated, 8/10 (only two were top-rated)

Other factors

  • Only one winner had come via the Flat. Seven of the other nine started their careers in bumpers, where they had earned an RPR of at least 110. The other two started over hurdles in France.
  • Three winners had previously run in the Champion Bumper (Al Ferof second in 2010, Cinders And Ashes fifth in 2011 and Champagne Fever won in 2012).
  • For many years, the shortest-priced Irish runner was often beaten by a compatriot. However, of the last ten to win, seven were the most fancied .
  • Ruby Walsh is the leading jockey in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle with five wins. Those wins came on Noland (2006), Al Ferof (2011), Champagne Fever (2013), Vautour (2014) and Douvan (2015).
  • Willie Mullins is the leading trainer in the race with five wins. The Irish trainer’s victories came with Tourist Attraction (1995), Ebaziyan (2007), Champagne Fever (2013), Vautour (2014) and Douvan (2015).

Key trials

For Supreme Novices’ Hurdle contenders based with British yards, the Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown in early January is the only Grade 1 trial. Summerville Boy won the Tolworth Hurdle before his Cheltenham Festival victory.
The Sharp Novices’ Hurdle (now run as the Sky Bet Supreme Trial Novices’ Hurdle) at Cheltenham’s November meeting, the Kennel Gate Novices’ Hurdle at Ascot and the Rossington Main Novices’ Hurdle at Haydock are Grade 2 contests that Supreme Novices’ Hurdle contenders often run in as part of their pre-Cheltenham campaign.
In Ireland, the Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle has been used en route to Cheltenham by recent Supreme winners Douvan and Vautour. That Punchestown contest is a Grade 2, but the Grade 1 Royal Bond Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse can also be considered a typical stepping stone. Two Grade 1s at Leopardstown, the Future Champions Novice Hurdle and Chanelle Pharma Novice Hurdle, fit into the same category.

What happened last year?

Summerville Boy defied two late blunders to rally past runner-up Kalashnikov and hand Tom George a first Cheltenham Festival winner since he was successful in 2002 with Galileo. Members’ Club subscribers can watch the 2018 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle result and replay here.

Where can I get Cheltenham Festival tickets?

Cheltenham Festival tickets can be purchased from the official festival website here.

Supreme Novices’ Hurdle Tip

If there’s a superstar lurking then perhaps it’s Angels Breath, who Nicky Henderson clearly rates highly. However, good horses like Sprinter Sacre have been beaten in this race and a lack of experience could be his undoing. The same cannot be said for Al Dancer, who was mightily impressive in the Betfair Hurdle and has already won over hurdles at Cheltenham. He rates the most likely winner with Fakir D’Oudairies and Elixir De Nutz among the dangers.
(Lewis Porteous)

Forecast
1. Al Dancer, 2. Fakir D’Oudairies, 3. Elixir De Nutz

View the racecard and place your bets here.