1.30 Supreme Novices' Hurdle

Tuesday 10 March  |  Age: 4yo+  |  Prize: £125,000

The Supreme Novices' Hurdle is traditionally the curtain-raiser the Cheltenham Festival. Open to horses aged four years or older who are novices (meaning they hadn’t won a race over hurdles prior to that season), the Supreme Novices' Hurdle is run on the Old Course over a distance of about two miles and half a furlong (2 miles and 87 yards).

IT'S FINALLY HERE.  Despite the current horrors and the collapse of an airline the Cheltenham Festival is upon us and it's time to make our final selections for day 1 on Tuesday. 

The Supreme is the first race of the festival and is usually met with a resounding roar from the crowd as they send these novices off on their journey of just over two miles.

The bookies are also looking to take the opportunity to get your deposits for the week.

I find that the hardest thing to handle over the course of the four days is organising the bets – which bookies have I used, how much has my out lay been for the week and will I be able to control my betting bank so that I'm not betting too little or too much come Friday?

I would recommend keeping some notes or a spreadsheet as you go along to make sure you don't spend too much on the first couple of days and sicken yourself by the end of the week if you haven't had all the winners that you expected.

On a couple of occasions I've found myself just about washing my face until the very last race of the festival (which used to be the Grand Annual but is now the Martin Pipe) where I have managed to end the festival with a healthy profit due to picking the winner.  If you leave yourself short or change your staking plan because you went a bit crazy on Tuesday then you can miss those winners on the last day.

There are some cracking offers, particularly on Tuesday, so take some time to have a look at those and work out if you can take advantage. Many of them are available to existing customers too.  William Hill are paying a remarkable 7 places each way in the Supreme which must surely be a loss-leader for them, Betfair and Paddy Power are paying 5 places, and Paddy Power are doing money back if you are 2nd, 3rd or 4th in any race on day 1.

In the race itself, I already mentioned in one of our Gambla Racing Podcasts that I fancy ASTERION FORLONGE to win this one. He was 7-2 at that time and is now a best priced 3-1 and is vying for favouritism with Shiskin.

I think that is still a fair price without being fantastic value given that there have been 16 runners declared.  He carries the best form over from Ireland in my view with his win at the Dublin Racing Festival last time out being a huge pointer.

The winner of that race often goes on to win this and with Mullins training him you have to give him a huge chance.

If you are looking for a solid each way bet to help you take advantage of the extra place offers then I would go for FIDDLERONTHEROOF for Colin Tizzard and ridden by the master Robbie Power.

The horse's form has been one of the best in the UK this season, particularly on soft and heavy ground so we will have no concerns about that and his rating is actually higher than Shiskin's.

His win in the Tolworth last time out looked impressive although it's not clear how good his opponents were that day.  We know the Tizzards can get one ready for the big occasion and I expect him to peak at just the right moment on Tuesday.

Be careful when watching the race because Siskin and Asterion Forlonge are owned by the same  owners and therefore have the same yellow and black colours.  Asterion will be the one wearing the black cap

Recommended bet

ASTERION FORLONGE can set the tone for the week ahead by giving the Irish an immediate success on day one of the Cheltenham festival.

The Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle is a strong curtain-raiser and the Willie Mullins-trained gelding has won all three starts, mostly notably bagging the Chanelle Pharma Novices’ Hurdle at Leopardstown by ten lengths.

That is one Ireland’s strongest trials and past winners include Danoli, Istabraq, Like-A-Butterfly, Brave Inca, Champagne Fever, Vautour and Samcro. Asterion Forlonge has left the impression he is a strong stayer but one that is not devoid of speed.

The Royal Bond Hurdle at Fairyhouse at the beginning of December is another traditional barometer and Abacadabras did well to split Envoi Allen and Champion Hurdle aspirant Darver Star.

He could well be the quickest horse in the race but deep ground may not be ideal. His jumping was a bit sketchy last time at Leopardstown in the Future Champions Hurdle but last year’s Champion Bumper fourth is a must for the shortlist, especially with William Hill offering SEVEN places each-way.

Nicky Henderson and Paul Nicholls mount a powerful home defence.

Henderson launches a double-pronged attack with Shiskin and Chantry House. Shiskin has looked a real tool in lower grade but this is the acid test.

Chantry House has been quietly nibbled in the betting and owner JP McManus likes to have a serious contender in this race.

Fiddleronthehoof gained a lot of fans when winning the Tolworth Hurdle on heavy ground. The Nicholls-trained gelding looked a relentless galloper up the Sandown straight and the Tolworth threw up a Supreme one-two in 2018 when Summerville Boy pipped Kalashnikov.

Recommended bet

This is always a difficult race to start the Cheltenham festival with a winner, and this year is no different. As always, the Supreme is highly competitive and you could make a strong case for virtually all the runners.

At the head of the market is the Mrs J Donnely owned pair, Shishkin & Asterion Forlonge. The latter probably deserves to be the favourite based on his impeccable performance at Leopardstown, where he destroyed the field by 9.5 lengths, beating some useful types in Easywork & Mt Leinster.

It is interesting that Klassical Dream won the same race at Leopardstown, before winning the Supreme. If you like a shorter priced horse, this is the one I’d probably side with.

That performance is the standout piece of form, but at the odds I think there are better EW alternatives.

Shishkin was impressive at Newbury, where he showed an electric turn of foot, but the form on paper isn’t stacking up enough to entice me to back him at short odds.

Abacadabras has been unlucky to bump into Envoi Allen at Fairyhouse, and that form line is looking very strong.

Envoi Allen appears to be the second coming of Jesus Christ and is being hyped up to be the next best thing, which is fair enough as he’s still unbeaten and looks very special.

Abacadabras got within a length and half of him, where his stamina probably told, and he couldn’t bridge the gap to Envoi Allen. The fourth in that race (Darver Star) has since finished second to Honeysuckle in the Irish Champion Hurdle, receiving an RPR of 160.

Darver Star goes to the Champion Hurdle on Tuesday with a live chance.

My selection for the Supreme is Edwardstone, who is currently priced at around 16/1.

It seems like he has been the forgotten horse in the line-up. This is probably due to the fact he finished second in a Grade 2 at Haydock, but that wasn’t his true showing in my opinion.

This race will suit this lad much better than any other race he’s competed in this season. He’s a very keen going sort, so the usual guaranteed strong pace of the Supreme will help him settle. Though he’s not settled in his races, he’s still beat some very useful types, such as Fiddlerontheroof who he opposes again tomorrow.

He also beat Harry Senior, who has won a Grade 2 on trials day, and is one of the leading hopes in the Albert Bartlett (he gave 6lb to Harry Senior that day). Fiddlerontheroof will have a great chance in this race, but the fact that he’s more than half the odds as Edwardstone is confusing as he was beat by him when Edwardstone was far too keen.

With William Hill paying 7 places, my selection would be a small EW play on the Alan King horse. If he was trained by Willie Mullins, he would be a 7/1 shot.

With a race this deep, it’s hard to comment on every horse, but a few others who have a decent shot would be Chantry House who is still unbeaten over rules, but the form on offer doesn’t quite stack up as much as the others, but does have course experience.

Captain Guinness has bags of potential, but a lack of experience which showed when finishing second to Andy Dufresne. Like Chantry House, that form doesn’t quite stack up, but he’s only ran twice so further improvement is highly likely.

Recommended bet

The Supreme Novices' Hurdle features on the Gambla Preview Podcast with the Voice of Value, where all Novice Races are discussed.

Exclusive Cheltenham Offer

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Distance: 2m 87y
Type: Hurdle
Class: 1
Track: Turf
Asterion Forlonge
J:P Townend
T: W P Mullins

J:Nico de Boinville
T: N J Henderson

J:D N Russell
T: G Elliott

Chantry House
J:B J Geraghty
T: N J Henderson

J:R M Power
T: C L Tizzard

Captain Guinness
J:Rachael Blackmore
T: H De Bromhead

Elixir D'Ainay
J:M P Walsh
T: W P Mullins

J:Tom Cannon
T: A King

J:James Bowen
T: N J Henderson

Soviet Pimpernel
J:K C Sexton
T: Peter Fahey

Berkshire Royal
J:D Crosse
T: W P Mullins

Mario De Pail
J:Sam Twiston-Davies
T: Sam Thomas

Heaven Help Us
J:D E Mullins
T: P Hennessy

Hollow Sound
J:Mr D T Kelly
T: L Comer

J:C O'Farrell
T: I Jardine

J:P T Enright
T: M F Morris

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