Supreme Novices' Hurdle Betting Tips & Trainer Quotes
Supreme Novices' Hurdle Tip
The Cheltenham Festival opener will be without the traditional roar to send them on their way this year but it will be interesting to see who follows in the footsteps of recent superstars Altior, Douvan and Vautour.
The Irish Contenders
Willie Mullins has trained six of the last seven favourites for the race and won it with Klassical Dream the year he didn’t have the market leader. He is the leading trainer with six wins in the race and he has the favourite this year with the Masterson owned Appreciate It.
The son of Jeremy found only his stablemate Ferny Hollow too good in the Champion Bumper last season when sent off a strong 15/8 favourite for the race. He featured towards the top of the ante-post betting for both the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle and Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle following that run and it was assumed that this former PTP winner and 2m4f bumper winner would contest races over further than 2 miles this year.
His campaign may have proved very different if his stablemate wasn’t ruled out of the festival with an injury early in the season but he has filled those shoes with no concern since. He beat the now 143 rated Master McShee in a maiden hurdle at Cork before winning impressively in the Paddy Power Future Champions Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown at Christmas.
When & Where To Watch Supreme Novices' Hurdle
13.30 Tuesday, March 16 - LIVE ON: ITV Racing, RTE Racing, Racing TV
He settled nicely behind the leader Fire Attack that day before powering clear by a widening nine lengths at the finish with main market rival Ballyadam back in 4th place. He once again beat that rival in the Chanelle Pharma Novice Hurdle at the Dublin Racing Festival where his high cruising speed allowed him to get his rivals off the bridle before stamping his domination on the race after the final hurdle. The stable have used this race with previous winners Klassical Dream, Vautour and Champagne Fever in recent years and Appreciate It looks to have had the perfect preparation for it this year.
For those looking to take on the favourite, there are statistics and trends that he will have to overcome for him to win the Festival opener. Captain Cee Bee was the last seven-year-old to win the race in 2008; 14 have tried since and only three have placed. It is worth noting that only one of these horses went off a single figure price though and that was the 4/5 favourite Dunguib in 2010. One other statistic that Shishkin managed to overcome last year was that 11 of the last 12 winners had a minimum of four starts over hurdles before winning the race. Given the experience that Appreciate It had in PTPs and bumpers last season I wouldn’t class this statistic as too much of a negative for him though.
It is rare that a horse beaten 16 lengths and 3 ¼ lengths by the favourite on his last two starts would feature so close to the top of the market, but there are reasons to believe the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle will be where we see the best of Ballyadam. A lot has been expected of the £330,000 purchase and the Cheveley Park Stud owned gelding went ante-post favourite for this race after winning the Grade 1 Royal Bond Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse in November; a race won by Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle winner Envoi Allen last season.
Like many of the Gordon Elliott string during the period, he disappointed at Christmas when only 4th behind Appreciate It at Leopardstown but bounced back to record a career best in the Chanelle Pharma Novice Hurdle at the Dublin Racing Festival last time. He travelled with a lot of enthusiasm and jumped well throughout (other than the last) but the favourite proved too strong on the soft to heavy ground at the finish. Looking at the actions of both horses, the expected better ground at Cheltenham will suit Ballyadam more than Appreciate It and his backers will be hoping this is enough to reverse the form.
One negative for both Ballyadam and Blue Lord is that 9 out of the last 10 winners have all come into the race having won last time out. An opening mark of 142 in Ireland may tempt connections of Blue Lord into going down the handicap route and a big field could suit his racing style. He raced far too keenly in the Grade 1 Lawlor’s Of Naas Novice Hurdle in January over 2m4f behind Bob Olinger but settled a lot better dropped back down to 2 miles behind Appreciate It and Ballyadam at the Dublin Racing Festival.
Despite the lack of crowds at the festival this year, adrenaline will still be high for the first race which usually results in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle being ran at a furious gallop and that will suit the chances of the Simon Munir and Isaac Souede owned gelding. He would hold place claims if allowed to take his chance but I have a feeling you will see him receive an entry for the handicaps to see how he is treated by the English handicapper.
One of the stories of the season has been the rise of Dreal Deal from a poor maiden in both codes to a Grade 2 winning novice hurdler. He started this season rated a lowly 84 over hurdles but following a quintet of handicap victories across both codes he took his chance in the Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle at Punchestown in January. Apparently needing the run after a 77-day break, the Ronan McNally owned and trained six-year-old defied a huge market drift to win the race by 3 lengths under exaggerated hold up tactics. He deserves to take his chance in this race but the form of his graded win has been let down since and it would be a surprise if he could extend his winning sequence to seven.
The Irish dominate the markets of both the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle and the Triumph Hurdle with Bob Olinger, Gaillard Du Mesnil, Zanahiyr and French Aseel but all contain entries for this race too. Gaillard Du Mesnil would make the most appeal if rerouted to this race but his impressive victory at the Dublin Racing Festival came over 2m6f so it would appear extremely unlikely for that to occur.
The UK Contenders
The Harry Fry trained Metier has proved a shrewd purchase this season having been bought out of the Andrew Slattery yard to go hurdling. He achieved a peak rating of 90 on the flat for previous connections and has made a fantastic transition to hurdling this season. He is unbeaten in three starts with his latest victory coming in the Grade 1 Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle at Sandown in January. He coped well with the heavy ground that day and powered clear after the last to win by 12 lengths at the finish.
It didn’t look the best renewal of the race though and it is worth remembering that the second Shakem Up’Arry had been beaten off a mark of 130 in a handicap prior to that run. Connections have decided to skip his intended engagement in the Betfair Hurdle to come straight here which is a shame as I would have liked to have seen his jumping tested going left-handed before the festival.
On his previous two starts at both Ascot and Sandown he has jumped slightly right at some of his obstacles and this could prove a potential weakness in a better race. For that reason and a question mark about the potential of better ground in March would lean me towards fearing the Irish contenders more than this son of Mastercraftsman.
My Drogo is a huge horse who outran odds of 50/1 to finish a close second in a bumper at the track in October. He is unbeaten in two starts over hurdles since with the second coming in the Grade 2 Supreme Trial at Ascot in December. The intention was to run him in the Sidney Banks Memorial Novices’ Hurdle at Huntingdon, a race won by Shishkin last year, but the meeting had to be abandoned due to flooding. That would be a negative for this inexperienced horse and connections have also stated that they may look after this future chaser and target him at the Aintree Festival instead.
The final horse to discuss is the unbeaten Bareback Jack for the resurgent Donald McCain yard. He coped with the step up in class to win the Scottish Supreme Novices’ Hurdle last time making it three out of three over hurdles. Connections like to target Aintree though and the fact that 8 out of the last 9 winners had previously won a graded novice hurdle would put me off even if he were to run.
Appreciate It is obviously the one to beat in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle this year but I feel there are enough reasons to believe Ballyadam (7/1) has a chance of upsetting the favourite. The Willie Mullins stable were in much better form at the Dublin Racing Festival than the Gordon Elliott string and the potential of a quicker surface in March will give encouragement that the Cheveley Park Stud owned gelding can reverse the form. The field looks extremely weak behind the top three in the market and he would rate a confident each way selection.
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