The 2019 Cheltenham Festival Supreme Novices Hurdle should be an absolute cracker! This year’s renewal promises to be a great deal more competitive than many we have seen in recent years and there’s a real chance of a big-priced winner. Seymour Biz casts his eye over the potential runners in the traditional Festival curtain-raiser. Can he help you to pick out the winner? Here are his Supreme Novices Hurdle tips…
You can find all recent analysis and previews from Seymour Biz in his weekly Saturday Horse Racing Tips column.
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The market leader has proved a real star since he moved to Nigel Twiston-Davies’s yard February last year. He won his first race, a National Hunt Flat contest at Bangor and was then tried in a hot Grade 2 at Aintree. He finished a creditable fourth and was put away for the summer. But this season he has really shone, he won two small races at Carlisle and Ffos Las then hammering a classy field at Cheltenham. Finally he went to Ascot for the Betfair and justified favouritism winning readily from Magic Dancer. He seems to act on any going, winning on all surfaces from soft to good.
The grey on arrived in Nicky Henderson’s stable in November last year after winning a point-to-point in Ireland. He quickly made his mark by winning a Supreme Novices Trial at Ascot just before Christmas. That win pushed him to the top of the betting for the race itself as he had some classy individuals trailing in his wake. So he was sent to Kempton for the Dovecote and went off the odds-on favourite. Unfortunately things did not go according to plan despite closing after the last he was just held by Southfield Stone. That said, the pair finished 18 lengths clear of the rest of the field.
This German bred gelding came to Willie Mullins last July after a reasonable flat career on the continent winning twice. He got off to a good start for Mullins winning first time out at Kilbeggan in August. He had a further summer outing finishing second when crossed by the winner at Listowel. He then had a break until November, since then he has run four times winning twice including a fine victory at Leopardstown’s Christmas meeting where he thrashed a top class field by 10 lengths. In his latest run in February at Leopardstown he was only headed in the final strides after hanging left by Klassical Dream.
BAND OF OUTLAWS
This four-year-old had a busy career for trainer J P O’Brien as a flat horse winning three times in fifteen starts. He was gelded in October and had his first run over hurdles in December at Cork where he stayed on to finish third to the classy Maze Runner. He then won at Limerick on Boxing Day before getting his revenge on Maze Runner at Naas in February. He showed a great improvement that day winning easily after being squeezed for room and having to switch yet still coming home by nearly five lengths.
Gordon Elliot’s star is unbeaten in three outings in Rules races. He won a point-to-point in 2017 then was not seen out for 19 months, but he certainly came back with a bang. After winning a National Hunt flat race at Punchestown in November he went for a maiden hurdle in December. He absolutely hammered the other twenty runners coming home by 13 lengths and justifying odds-on favouritism. In January he went to Naas for a Grade 1 hurdle against some of Ireland’s top novices, he took the lead two out and stayed on for a great victory.
This Irish point-to-point winner came to Olly Murphy’s yard in November 2017 and had his first outing in January last year. That run was in a National Hunt flat race at Hereford where he justified favouritism and came home by nine lengths. He was then aimed at the Challow Hurdle at Newbury where he kept on well to finish fourth only four lengths behind Nicky Henderson’s Champ. He then came to Cheltenham for the Ballymore Novices Hurdle in January where he led, and was half a length up when falling at the last.
Another winning Irish pointer but this time in Nicky Henderson’s yard. He only came to Seven Barrows in November last year but impressed the trainer from the start. He won his maiden comfortably at Newcastle at the beginning of December where he went off odds-on favourite. At the end of the month he went to Newbury for the Introductory Hurdle and despite not getting a clear run he led soon after the last, quickened clear, and won impressively.
ELIXIR DE NUTZ
Previously at Phillip Hobbs’s yard, he ran twice for that trainer after being imported from France. But he had no luck for Hobbs, falling and finishing last on his two outings. He came to Colin Tizzard’s stable in October last year and had his first run for his new stable at the end of the month finishing a promising second to Thomas Darby. From there he has gone from strength to strength winning twice at Cheltenham then going to Sandown for the Tolworth Hurdle. He made all that day, was driven out and held on gamely from Grand Sancy.
THis horse is one of Joseph Patrick O’Brien’s big hopes. He only came to the yard the week before Christmas having been purchased by JP McManus from France. His record there was none from six and he had fallen on his last outing. But O’Brien has worked miracles with him, he won his maiden in January coming home by over 3 lengths in a field of 22 at Cork. From there he was stepped up in up in class and came to Cheltenham for a Triumph Hurdle Trial. He absolutely sluiced home winning by 13 lengths from a good field giving owner and trainer the option on taking on this contest.
This 6-year-old chestnut is one of Gordon Elliot’s entries. He was a point-to-point and dual National Hunt Flat race winner in 2017, then after a four month break he ran in two more NHF races without success. He then had a six month break before coming out at Galway and winning his maiden hurdle very easily. After three runs without success he went to Punchestown in January for a Grade 2. He made all that day and came home unopposed from a very strong field.
Another French bred gelding, this time from Paul Nicholls’s stable. He was unsuccessful in his six races last season but Nicholls has been patient with him, nurtured him and that has proved fruitful. He won his first race of this season at Chepstow after a seven month break. From there he ran second in a small field at Kempton in a very tactical race which can be discounted. Two victories followed that at Haydock and Wincanton before stepping up in class at Ascot for the Exchange Trophy. He ran a fair fourth that day but was better next time out only going down half a length in the Tolworth at Ascot. His latest outing at Wincanton in the Kingwell produced an excellent victory where he was driven out to beat Sceau Royal.
Yet another French import, this one at Willie Mullins’s yard, he was one from seven in France. He had not run for a year before coming to Mullins in November 2018 but was soon sent out to run at Leopardstown on Boxing Day. In a twenty runner field he kept on well to win by a length and three quarters from Entoucas. He came back to Leopardstown in February for a Grade 1 hurdle and got home by head from Aramon.
Another Nicky Henderson hopeful, the 5-year-old started his career in National Hunt Flat races winning at Kempton then running poorly in a Grade 2 at Aintree last April. In his first race over hurdles he only went down by a short head at Newbury in November. He got the hang of things properly on Boxing Day at Kempton by winning a top class hurdle by almost three lengths. He went on from that to a Supreme Trial at Haydock in January and again land the spoils beating a very good field by two and a half lengths.
Olly Murphy’s six-year-old gelding did not see a racecourse until May last year. That was National Hunt Flat race where he was sent off favourite, he duly obliged and was put away for the summer. He returned to action at Cheltenham in October winning his maiden hurdle by over three lengths from Elixir De Nutz. His next outing was at Kempton on Boxing Day but was unable to quicken in a race won by Mister Fisher. As a run was required prior to the Festival he was dropped in class to run at Taunton, he went off a very hot odds-on favourite and won readily so setting himself up for this.
A Gordon Elliot hopeful who was a winner over 1m 7f at Fontainebleau last April. He moved to Elliot’s yard in October and ran in a maiden hurdle at Leopardstown on Boxing Day. He ran a good fourth in a race won by Klassical Dream but was unable to make an impression. He went to Punchestown a fortnight later in a 21 runner maiden and won by four and a half lengths from Elixir D’ainay who turn was nine lengths clear of the rest of the field. His latest outing was at Leopardstown where he ran third, six lengths behind Klassical Dream.
Conclusion; Many high class novices involved from both here and across the water but looking for value among the runners I have to side wth one of my Ten To Follow chosen at the start of the season. That horse is Mister Fisher. He is from a top stable, Nicky Henderson, and has done nothing but improve all season. His trainer will have him spot on for this. He is currently priced at 12/1 with Bet365.