What do Supreme Novices’ Hurdle stats and form of the contenders say about the opening race of the Cheltenham Festival? A Grade 1 test over an extended two miles on the Old course, this traditional curtain-raiser to the premier jumps meeting in Britain gets everything off to a scintillating start.
Many recent Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winners have come over from Ireland, so it’s worth paying special attention to Emerald Isle raiders. We have assessed all the runners in this year’s renewal for you below.
1. Abadcadabras – 6/1
A leading player for trainer Gordon Elliott and owners Gigginstown House Stud, Abadcadbras was a fine fourth in the Champion Bumper here last year. He went on to be second in the Punchestown equivalent and has posted strong form since switching to hurdles.
Abadcadabras beat subsequent Dublin Racing Festival Grade 1 winner Latest Exhibition at Navan before chasing home leading Ballymore fancy Envoi Allen at Fairyhouse. The six-year-old went on to score at the highest level himself at Leopardstown over Christmas in the Paddy Power Future Champions Novice Hurdle.
2. Allart – 20/1
Winner of his last two starts for Nicky Henderson, Allart was sent off odds-on both times. The Supreme demands a lot more than minor events at Ludlow and Doncaster, though, so this six-year-old could run in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle the following day instead.
3. Asterion Forlonge – 11/4
Given trainer Willie Mullins’s superb record in this race with four winners in the last seven years, the unbeaten Asterion Forlonge is one of the main Supreme Novices’ Hurdle 2020 tips from experts. Owned by the same people as Shishkin, this is one six-year-old with options.
Asterion Forlonge could line up against his owner companion here, or step up in trip for the Ballymore and still holds an entry in the Albert Bartlett. He has won an Irish point but also a Grade 1 at Leopardstown over this trip, so is strong in the betting here.
4. Berkshire Royal – 33/1
Another Mullins mount, but this one is unraced over hurdles. Although Berkshire Royal has plenty of Flat experience when in the care of Andrew Balding, it’s a big ask for the five-year-old to go straight into the Supreme.
5. Captain Guinness – 16/1
Very much a dark horse for Henry De Bromhead, Captain Guinness made Andy Dufresne pull out all the stops in the Grade 2 Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle at Punchestown in January. The five-year-old has had just two career starts but, if making similar progress, looks one to definitely consider backing each-way.
6. Chantry House – 13/2
Trained by Nicky Henderson for major Irish owner JP McManus, Chantry House won readily on his hurdles debut here in December and has since followed-up at Newbury. With plenty more to come, it’s just a question of whether this six-year-old lines up here or in the Ballymore. He’s another with each-way claims.
7. Edwardstone – 16/1
After placing in three bumpers, Alan King’s Edwardstone beat subsequent Grade 1 winner Fiddlerontheroof on his hurdles debut at Wincanton. He followed up at Aintree and again that form looks good.
The six-year-old was unlucky to be chinned close home in the Grade 2 Rossington Main at Haydock by Stolen Silver seeking the hat-trick last time out. Edwardstone is not out of the equation by any means and another with place prospects if the race cuts up or market principals fail to fire.
8. Elixir D’Ainay – 25/1
Mullins and McManus combine with Elixir D’Ainay, whose sole hurdles victory is over further. He was held by Envoi Allen in a Grade 1 at Naas and failed to stay a longer trip at the Dublin Racing Festival, but no form over this distance either. The six-year-old is in the Ballymore as well.
9. Fiddlerontheroof – 13/2
Persian War runner-up and Tolworth winner Fiddlerontheroof is one of the leading British contenders for the Supreme. Colin Tizzard’s charge has improved since chasing home Edwardstone. The six-year-old has posted his best form right-handed, but makes a very good case here and has the Ballymore as another option.
10. Hollow Sound – 100/1
Owner-trainer Luke Comer has an experienced bumper horse in Hollow Sound, but his form isn’t up to the standard needed to get serious here. The five-year-old is an outsider in both the Ballymore and this.
11. Jabbaar – 200/1
Scottish trainer Iain Jardine has experienced seven-year-old Jabbaar in both this and the County. For all his Flat runs, tackling this race looks beyond him.
12. Mario De Pail – 66/1
Comfortable Kelso winner Mario De Pail ran a big race when trying to follow-up under a penalty at Chepstow, but this demands more. Trainer Sam Thomas may find this step up a case of too much too soon for the five-year-old.
13. Shishkin – 11/4
Nicky Henderson’s Shishkin left his hurdles debut fall firmly behind by bolting up in races at Newbury and Huntingdon. The six-year-old is among the market principals here and fancied by Ruby Walsh, but could his owner keep him and Asterion Forlonge apart? Shishkin is a speedy type who looks better-suited by the Supreme than the Ballymore, though.
14. Soviet Pimpernel – 25/1
Irish trainer Peter Fahey has placed Soviet Pimpernel pretty well throughout his career so far. It’s just a case of whether the five-year-old would be better off running in the County instead of this after landing a Grade 3 age-restricted contest at Limerick last time out.
15. Whatsnotoknow – 100/1
Mouse Morris has an outsider in Whatsnotoknow. He broke his maiden tag at the seventh time of asking under Rules at Thurles when last in action and has to improve markedly on that to get competitive here.
16. Heaven Help Us – 100/1
The sole mare in the Supreme line-up, Paul Hennessy’s Heaven Help Us won over course and distance when besting Master Debonair in October. She failed to build on that when racing in Listed company against her own sex but outran big odds to chase home Abacadabras at Leopardstown. She is of greater interest in the Grade 2 Daylesford on St Patrick’s Thursday than this.
Paddy’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle tips
Owners John and Marie Donnelly have a very strong hand to play here. The speedy Shishkin, the unbeaten Asterion Forlonge or both? With Envoi Allen bound for the Ballymore, Supreme Novices’ Hurdle 2020 tips focus on other contenders like Elliott stable companion Abacadabras.
Fiddlerontheroof is also respected on his own Grade 1 success, while Captain Guinness is another with tons of ability. It concerns those five and Chantry House in a typically tasty looking Supreme.
Odds correct at time of publishing.
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