Jordan Yates' Cheltenham Festival Preview. (Supreme Novices Hurdle)

Supreme Novices Hurdle

(Class 1) (Grade 1) (2m)

Tuesday 12th March 2019

The Supreme Novices Hurdle is the first race of the Cheltenham Festival and a race which has an illustrious back catalogue of not just winners, participants in general. The 2016 race was a fine example of this with the first three home being Altior, Min and Buveur D'air and those three haven't ended up too bad. Champion Hurdle and Champion Chase winner alike. Last year's race was won by Tom George's Summerville Boy after a fabulous tussle up the hill with Kalashnikov. The latter features prominently in the betting for this year's Arkle.

This year's renewal is headed by the Nigel Twiston-Davies trained Al Dancer who sits at the top of the market currently trading at a best priced of 3/1. He was last seen when winning the Betfair Hurdle at Ascot in very taking style and he certainly looks to have a big part to play here. As you'd expect Nicky Henderson currently has a strong hand with several big name contenders in the line up and these come in the form of Angels Breath (8/1), Mister Fisher (12/1), and Champagne Platinum (16/1). The horse sitting the most prominent in the market is Angels Breath who recently had his colours lowered on his second outing for Nicky when failing to reel in Southfield Stone at Kempton. It's likely he'll improve a lot from run and the alarm bells didn't seem to be going off from connections, which would be a somewhat a premature reaction in my opinion. I actually saw Mister Fisher in action the last day at Haydock when he got the better of Ben Pauling's smart prospect Bright Forecast in a trial for this race. He gave the impression that's there's a lot more to come as he did seem somewhat still a baby, it will be interesting to see how he fairs if taking his place here in a championship race. Champagne Platinum will be sporting the famous green, yellow and white of JP McManus and he's a horse that has won both of his starts since joining Seven Barrows. This race requires a massive step up on the races he's competed in so far, that being said he's a very highly regarded sort of whom we don't quite know just how good he could be.

Willie Mullins has targeted this race with some of his best upcoming prospects in recent years with the likes of Vautour, Douvan, Min, Melon and Getabird all taking their place in the Supreme. It looks to be Klassical Dream (10/1) and Aramon (12/1) who are the main hopefuls for the master from Closutton. Both of these horses are Grade 1 winners this season and the latter of these Grade 1's they fought out a tremendous battle between each other at the Dublin Racing Festival. Both deserve their respective places at the top end of the market for this. One of the main fancies for this race also resides from Ireland and that's the Joseph O'Brien trained Fakir Doudaries (7/2), he absolutely bolted up in a Triumph trial here on Trials Day and with him now sporting the JP silks like Triumph favourite Sir Erec it's increasingly likely that he'll take his place here. If he does it goes without saying that he's a massive player. Gordon Elliott still has a handful of contenders in the line up and the two setting most prominently in the betting are Felix Desjy (16/1) and Vision Dhonneur (16/1). Both represented Gigginstown and and both have obvious claims if turning up here.

Out of the home challenge two that look to stand out as more obvious contenders look to be the Colin Tizzard Trained Elixir De Nutz (10/1) and Paul Nicholls Grand Sancy (10/1). Both have come up against each other already the season in the Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle where the Colin Tizzard horse came out on top. The five year old has already appeared at Prestbury Park on three occasions this term winning twice and has earned himself the reputation as one of the toughest horses in training. Grand Sancy isn't that far behind though when it comes to being tough, he's danced every dance too this term and franked the form of that Tolworth run when winning the Kingwell last time at Wincanton.

Race Verdict:

"If turning up in the same form as his electrifying win in the Betfair Hurdle win Al Dancer will be very hard to beat here. Who's going to make up the places? You could be here all day trying to figure that one out. Loads come here with viable chances, Elixr De Nutz will likely go from the front and set it up nicely for himself, he's a horse with course form which will stand him in very good stead. Aramon might well take advantage of a strong pace, already a Grade 1 winner this season the Willie Mullins charge has a pretty deadly turn of foot."

Placings Prediction:

1st: Al Dancer (3/1) 2nd: Elixr De Nutz (10/1) 3rd: Aramon (12/1)

My Bet:

Each Way: ELIXR DE NUTZ (10/1)

(I actually backed Elixr De Nutz for this at a big price earlier on in the season, that's pointless information for you lot now though and I believe he's currently available at a best priced of 10/1. I've grown to really love this horse this season and even if he ends up tailing off he owes me nothing, I do think he holds a decent chance though if serving it up from the front. Regular followers of this page know how much I love a front runner and this boy is the best example of one. Very hard to pass and where's his heart on his sleeve as she showed the last day when gaining Grade 1 success in the Tolworth.)

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