Cheltenham Tips: Ruby Walsh’s best ante-post bets for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle

It's eight weeks and counting to the roar of the first race of the Cheltenham Festival 2023 and while Ruby Walsh won't be opposing Facile Vega, he has a 25/1 value play up his sleeve.

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*Odds quoted on the widget are Future Racing / Antepost prices which means that if your selection does not run in the race for whatever reason – you will lose your stake under traditional Antepost rules.

The countdown is on to the Cheltenham Festival 2023 where racing fans will be looking for a little bit of insight into every race, so we’ve got jump jockey icon turned tactical guru Ruby Walsh and top pundit Rory Delargy with us every week to hopefully get you more bang for your buck.

The two-mile speedsters will contest the opening race, the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle on Tuesday, March 14th so that’s where we’ll start.

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Our dynamic duo will be doing weekly ante-post podcasts to deliver their early thoughts on every race – amazing, eh?

Will Willie Mullins’ Facile Vega bolt up like the market is suggesting? Or is it worth looking elsewhere and getting behind Marine Nationale, Impaire Et Passe or Tahmuras?

RUBY WALSH: Supreme Novices Hurdle

I thought Facile Vega was very good at Fairyhouse in a pretty bog-standard maiden hurdle. He couldn’t have been any more impressive than he was and we know how good he was in bumper races last season. David Porter rides him every morning at home and he’s very happy with him, he looks well.

He was workman-like more than spectacular at Leopardstown over Christmas but he got the job done when stepped up to Grade One company. He made a mistake or two, but I was glad to see him do that, he’ll learn from those errors and improve for that.

I don’t love to see Novices go to Cheltenham absolutely foot perfect because somewhere along the way they’re going to get it wrong. You’d like to see them make a mistake before they get there. Facile Vega made two at Christmas, he’ll have learned from that and improve from it. Knowing Willie Mullins, Facile Vega will improve.

He’d have had him ready enough to win his maiden hurdle, he’ll have improved for Christmas, he’ll have him better again by the Dublin Racing Festival with the aim of being better by Cheltenham in March. He’s doing everything Willie has asked him to do, but I don’t think he’s near turned a screw with him yet.

Impaire Et Passe was impressive in the Moscow Flyer Hurdle at Punchestown on Sunday. He showed a good turn of foot to beat The Model Kingdom. I didn’t think it was a frantically-run race and Shecouldbeanything didn’t attack her hurdles while Impaire Et Passe jumped brilliantly, quickened up really well, had a look at the last and gave it a bit of height.

He was really impressive but I just wouldn’t assume he’ll run in the Supreme Novices Hurdle after he won on Sunday over two miles. He’s a relaxed individual and looks like an easy horse to ride, be it over two miles or two and a half miles. He’s a great goer in his homework and what race he runs in at Cheltenham is still up in the air.

You can’t assume Impaire Et Passe and Facile Vega won’t go in the same race at the Festival. For a start, they’ve got different owners. It’ll be interesting to see where they go but Impaire Et Passe has shown he has a bit of stamina too so could step up in trip.

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I was impressed enough with Joseph O’Brien’s High Definition at Christmas. His jumping at Leopardstown was not great but he was in front, he was making the running, he was having a good look. There was a lot to like about how High Definition did it.

We’re assuming we’re going to get another look at him in a race before Cheltenham, but he’s a high- rated Flat horse and does need to brush up on his jumping. Maybe another race will help with that and he won quite snugly to my eyes.

I wouldn’t oppose Facile Vega though. There’s no way I’d back him at odds-on ante-post but I’d definitely not oppose him as the most likely winner of the Supreme Novices Hurdle and I think it will be the race for him.

For a bit of value, there’s a big price available on Irish Point each-way. He could run in the Supreme Novices Hurdle if Gordon Elliott opted for this contest. He ran well behind Champ Kiely at Naas over a longer trip but if connections were to drop back down to two miles for the Supreme Novices Hurdle, he looks a big price at this stage.

Ruby’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle Antepost Tips

Facile Vega – to win
Irish Point (each-way)

*Odds quoted on the widget are Future Racing / Antepost prices which means that if your selection does not run in the race for whatever reason – you will lose your stake under traditional Antepost rules.

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