The Cheltenham Festival kicks off with the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, a race greeted with the traditional Cheltenham roar heralding the start of another festival.
Willie Mullins has won this race more times – seven times – than any other coach and it gave him his first success at the meeting when Tourist Attraction triumphed in 1995.
This year he’s saddled Facile Vega, who remains the 11/4 favorite despite a first career loss in the Grade 1 Ireland Novice Hurdle at the Dublin Racing Festival in Leopardstown last month. Stablemates Il Etait Temps and Gaelic Warrior are also in the mix for Mullins.
The undefeated Marine Nationale is an exciting contender for Barry Connell while winner Tahmuras is the lowest priced home contender for Paul Nicholls at 10/1.
Great performers like Vautour, Douvan, Altior and Shishkin are among the youngest honors at this race, while in 2022 Nicky Henderson and Nico de Boinville descended on Constitution Hill in red-hot style when he broke the course record in a 22-length demolition.
An intense examination of the best young hurdlers in Britain and Ireland, the extended two miles brings together the form lines of both nations, often for the first time, and the result can serve as an indication of where the best beginner form lies with a outlook for the rest of the week .
Will it be another Mullins win in 2023 or can Nicholls follow Nicky Henderson’s lead from 12 months ago and strike a blow at the home team from the start?
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When is the Highest Novice Hurdle?
The Supreme Novices’ Hurdle will take place on Tuesday, March 14th at 1.30pm. It is the first race of the Cheltenham Festival.
Supreme Novices Hurdle: Runners and Riders
Final statements are on Sunday, March 12th. (rating of five in brackets)
Chase 1 fire Aidan Coleman (T: Olly Murphy) 20/1 (**)
The easy winner of three hurdles at Market Rasen and Sandown has plenty to be found when it comes to class ratings, but he’s undefeated and it’s hard to say how good he’ll be.
2 Dark Raven – Jockey tbc (T: Willie Mullins) 25/1 (**)
Debut hurdle winner and third in Class 1 company on this trip last time at the Dublin Racing Festival in Leopardstown. That’s harder again if you’re hoping for something similar.
3 diverge – Jockey tbc (T: Willie Mullins) 14/1 (**)
French import who did well over Christmas at Leopardstown by evidence of his hurdle bow. Since then he’s been an easy winner at a big field in Punchestown and needs to get back up.
4 Doctor Bravo – Jockey tbc (T: Gordon Elliott) 16/1 (**)
Down Royal Maid winner in January and a fair third since in a Class 3 competition against experienced rivals at Gowran Park but much more is needed now.
5 Light Vega – Jockey tbc (T: Willie Mullins) 7/4 (***)
Champion Bumper winner last year and hot favorite since his Grade 1 win at Leopardstown at Christmas, but flopping at the same venue last month when he left too quickly must be forgiven.
6 Fennor Cross – Jockey tbc (T: John McConnell) 40/1 (**)
Rally winner of the Supreme Trials over course and distance on good ground in November but has not been seen since which is negative and there is plenty more to find now.
7 High resolution – Jockey tbc (T: Joseph O’Brien) 10/1 (***)
High class flat performer who won his hurdles debut at Christmas. Contributed to the fast pace of Facile Vega’s defeat at Leopardstown where he dismounted his rider. Dangerous when getting a solo run.
8 Il Etait Temps – Jockey tbc (T: Willie Mullins) 13/2 (*****)
Picked up the plays when Facile Vega folded in Leopardstown and won quite gracefully. Trainer’s winners of this race are doing well at this meeting. underestimated.
9 In the pocket – Jockey tbc (T: Henry de Bromhead) 20/1 (**)
Second to Il Etait Temps at Leopardstown last month when a mistake at the penultimate hurdle was no help. Stamina will be an advantage here on the hill.
10 Naval National – Jockey tbc (T: Barry Connell) 7/2 (****)
Unbeaten after two bumpers and two hurdles. Most recently the determined winner of the Grade 1 Royal Bond Hurdle at Fairyhouse in December. A player who can maybe improve again.
11 palace boy – Jockey tbc (T: Fergal O’Brien) 200/1
Last month he finished second in a list event in Exeter, 11 lengths behind smart mare Luccia. A 40/1 shot on the day and plenty to find on this evidence. 12 Rare Edition
– Sam Twiston-Davies (T: Charlie Longsdon) 25/1 (**)
Won his first two-over woods in good style and finished runner-up in a listed company last time at Huntingdon (2.3½f, good). Lots to find at Ratings and Down in Trip. 13 Strong Leader
– Sean Bowen (T: Olly Murphy) 33/1 (**)
Has not used more than third gear to record three hurdle wins so far but will certainly be challenged this time and it will be interesting to see what’s under the bonnet. 14 Tahmuras
– Harry Cobden (T: Paul Nicholls) 8/1 (****)
Three wins from three over wood for the British champions trainer and traveled best at the Class 1 Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown in January. Might worry the Irish coming in so late.
Why is the High Novices’ hurdle important?
This is the most important novice event at the festival as it comes across the shortest journey. It brings together the very best and fastest young hurdlers from Great Britain and Ireland in a battle for the most coveted prize available to them during their first jumping season. Check out the latest free bet offers
What happened at last year’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle?
Last year saw a spectacular renewal when Constitution Hill put on a scintillating performance, beating his Nicky Henderson-trained stablemate Jonbon by a whopping 22 lengths to break the course record. He billed himself as a potential superstar that afternoon, and nothing he’s done since has suggested otherwise.
Which Horses Lead the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle Ante Post Betting?
Facile Vega remains favorite for Mullins at 11/4 despite a shock defeat at last month’s Dublin Racing Festival. He won the Champion Bumper here last season and is now trying to follow his mother Quevega, who won the Mares’ Hurdle at the festival six years in a row from 2009 to 2014.
Marine Nationale won the Grade 1 Royal Bond Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse in December and is 4/1 for Connell, while Mullins’ other Dublin Racing Festival winners Il Etait Temps and Gaelic Warrior are by single digit odds just ahead of leading British contender Tahmuras at 10/1 for Nicholls.
Who should I bet on in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle?
Il Etait Temps were beaten by Facile Vega at Christmas when they met in Leopardstown but last month that all changed at Tattersalls Ireland Novice Hurdle when the latter was disappointingly the last of the five finishers and Danny Mullins’ mount Inthepocket by almost 10 lengths struck. Given this win he could be the safest option at this stage. Take a look at our comprehensive list ofbest betting sites