MILESEY can’t wait for the Cheltenham Festival. He’s like a kid waiting for Christmas. It may be 6 days until it all kicks-off but he’s started narrowing the field already and written up his thoughts for Day One. See what he makes of the leading runners and riders over the next series of posts starting with the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle that will get the Festival started… The William Hill Supreme Novices’ Hurdle is the traditional curtain-raiser to the Cheltenham Festival – and always greeted with a huge roar from the packed stands when the horses trot in for the start. Run over an extended two miles, it is contested by horses who are likely to return for the Champion Hurdle the following year. Among the most famous winners in the last few decades are Browne’s Gazette and subsequent Champion Hurdle winners Hors La Loi and Brave Inca.
These are the leading contenders for the 2013 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle:
My Tent Or Yours (trained by Nicky Henderson)
Henderson has decided against supplementing his easy Betfair Hurdle winner for the Champion Hurdle, but must have been tempted so impressive was he at Newbury. The six-year-old looks physically as good as he performs, and will be a warm order to get his high-profile connections off to a Cheltenham Festival flyer.
Jezki (trained by Jessica Harrington)
In the same ownership as My Tent Or Yours, this five-year-old gives J P McManus an incredibly strong hand in the Festival opener. Unplaced in last year’s Champion Bumper, his only defeat so far, but since then has cleaned up in novice hurdles in his native Ireland and will not mind if the ground dries out.
Un Atout (trained by Willie Mullins)
Mullins, as usual, has a strong team of novice hurdlers but this is undoubtedly his first string in this contest. Unbeaten in three starts, the five-year-old has yet to come off the bridle in landing a bumper and two hurdle races. Could be anything, but has yet to race on ground other than testing.
River Maigue (trained by Nicky Henderson)
An Irish point-to-point winner, he had the speed to land the same Ayr bumper as illustrious stable companion Sprinter Sacre and also scored at Kempton Park on Boxing Day. Turned over by four-year-old Far West at Ascot last time out but is held in high regard at his Seven Barrows yard.
Dodging Bullets (trained by Paul Nicholls)
A useful sort on the Flat when trained in Ireland, the five-year-old was fourth in last season’s Triumph Hurdle and kept his maiden tag in order to have a novice campaign this term. Already a winner twice at Cheltenham in the autumn and not disgraced when third in the Christmas Hurdle on Boxing Day.
Champagne Fever (trained by Willie Mullins)
Knows where the Cheltenham winning post is for he battled to victory in last season’s Champion Bumper at the Festival. Mixed campaign this time with defeat by Jezki and lacklustre run when returning sick coupled with two easy wins, including a Grade 1. Could be difficult to pass if getting out in front.
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