Which 3 Novice Hurdlers Are Best Bets For Cheltenham?
- Supreme Novices' Hurdle - Bet on Ballyadam at 8/1 (NRNB – Bet365)
- Dawn Run Mares Novices' Hurdle - Bet on Hook Up at 5/1 (NRNB – Paddy Power)
- Albert Bartlett - Bet on Alaphilippe e/w at best odds after final declarations
The novice events at the Cheltenham Festival are something I really look forward to, as we have the promise of so much more to come and will hopefully see the protagonists at the big festivals for years to come.
There is always a lot of hype over the Irish Novices’ and the statistics back up the hype. In the last 10 years there have been 35 novice events run (Non-Handicaps) and of those 35 races, 22 have been won by Irish trained horses. Willie Mullins leads the way with a massive 13 winners including all 5 of the running’s of the Mares Novices’ Hurdle, albeit he often has multiple entries in the race. He is the man to follow at the festival and with the likes of Appreciate It and Gaillard Du Mesnil he would be expected by the punters to enhance his already superb record.
Supreme Novices' Hurdle Tip
Some very good horses have won the Supreme Novices' Hurdle in the past and some well backed horses have lined up in the contest. However, no favourite has won the race since Douvan 6 years ago and Min (Evs) Getabird (7/4) and Asterion Forlonge (9/4) last year have all been short priced Willie Mullins horses to get beaten. Appreciate It supporters will hope that this does not happen again whilst supporters of the impressive Betfair Hurdle winner Soaring Glory will hope to overcome the dreaded “Ran last time out in a handicap “curse. In the last 20 years no winner has won the Supreme following a handicap run.
Whilst a few Mullins horses have sank in this race, he has still won with Douvan, Vautour, Champagne Fever and Klassical Dream and Appreciate It has by far the best form coming into the race. His form stands up under the closest scrutiny and last time out he won the best novice hurdle to be run either side of the Irish Sea in the Chanelle Pharma Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown. He boasts good course form at the festival having been second in last years Champion Bumper and is definitely the one to beat.
The main challengers appear to be Thedevilscoachman and Ballyadam. The former has improved a lot since beating beaten by Appreciate It at Leopardstown whilst the latter still has bags of potential and reasons to believe he can get closer to the favourite. Of the home raiders Soaring Glory may have the best chance but has that handicap curse to overcome.
Whilst I think Appreciate It will be hard to beat the value has to be Ballyadam Ew almost as a bet to nothing. He looked exceptional when beating Colonel Mustard at Down Royal and then won the Royal Bond Novice Hurdle which has a superb roll of honour. He has been beaten twice by Appreciate It but on the first occasion the trainer’s horses were bang out of form and whilst much closer last time, he did not have the run of the race and made a mess of the last hurdle.
The favourite dictated at his pace and Ballyadam was forced 4/5 horses wide for much of the race. Given more luck in running I think it will be close between the pair and the value is with the Cheveley Park Stud owned runner.
🐎🇮🇪 2.10 Leopardstown 🇮🇪🐎— In The Saddle Podcast 🏇📱💻 (@inthesaddlepod) February 7, 2021
🏆 Appreciate It
🥉 Blue Lord
Have we seen the Surpeme winner?
Dawn Run Mares Novices’ Hurdle Tip
The Dawn Run Mares Novices’ Hurdle has been farmed by Willie Mullins in each of the 5 years. He has won with high class mares in the form of Limini, Laurina and Let’s Dance who were all well backed at the head of the market despite the trainer having a few runners. For the most it has been the fancied one of the Mullins team that has obliged. Whilst Hook Up isn’t as highly rated as the three mares above she ticks all the boxes in that she is fancied, trained by the Master of Closutton and is a French Bred mare with solid form.
Apart from Concertista last year, all his other winners were French Bred mares and often this means that they have greater experience on their side. She is far from the most fluent hurdler but may improve for a truer run contest and Ruby Walsh has recently been singing her praises, stating that her hurdling has improved measurably at home. Of the dangers Roseys Hollow is high up on the list after her beating of Royal Kahala at Fairyhouse where she hurdled brilliantly and the aforementioned Royal Kahala is progressive. The British challenge looks quite weak and is headed by The Glancing Queen for Alan King who has had two placed efforts at big prices in this race courtesy of Dusky Legend.
With his record in the race, you have to focus on Willie Mullins and Hook Up must be the bet. She ran a fine race in the Chanelle Pharma Novice Hurdle and that looks incredibly strong form. It would be no surprise to see stablemate Echoes in Rain running a big race also for Mullins. She ran a decent race despite being plenty keen in a grade 2 at Punchestown on her last run and she is another Mullins trained French Bred mare.
Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle Tip
The Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle is normally a wide-open event that has thrown up a shock winner or two with 3 winners in the last 10 years winning at 33/1 or bigger. It often takes a classy stayer to win and subsequent Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Bobs Worth won this in 2011 before winning the big one later in his career.
A few key races have been Royal Bond and the Limerick Graded Novice hurdle run at the back end of December, whilst the Albert Bartlett Novice hurdle trial run at Cheltenham has provided 2 recent winners. In total 5 of the last 7 winners of this contest have run in one of those races, though they have not necessarily won their race.
Stattler and Fakiera currently head the ante post betting and whilst both beaten last time out, they both shaped encouragingly. Gordon Elliott trainer of Fakiera also has Torygraph and Farouk D’Alene entered and it will be interesting to see who he runs. Barbados Bucks is currently the shortest of the British horses but has to step up considerably on what he has shown in winning some weak Novice hurdles.
I will go for some value and tip Alaphilippe to provide a minor shock. I was very impressed with his win at Haydock and despite easing down half a furlong out he beat Bushypark’s sectional times all the way up the straight despite an overall slower time. This horse has experience with plenty of runs under belt but above all Haydock shows he has gears and is a strong stayer. His new rating is 143 which is the same as Kilbricken Storm and Penhill had when they won.
I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see the danger being N’Golo, if he settles in a bigger field, again from the Willie Mullins stable. Very Wood and Penhill were beaten in the Royal Bond before winning this race and N’Golo was a fine staying on 3rd in that contest. It is most interesting to see him entered for this despite pulling like a train on his last two runs but he will also have handicap entries and is one to watch. Another big price danger is John McConnell’s Streets of Doyen who was in great form when last seen and has course form. If the ground is on the better side, he could easily outrun huge odds.
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