Wednesday’s Paddy Power Future Champions Novice Hurdle (Wed 27 December) was expected to shed some light on the betting market for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle but, as favourite Mengli Khan crashed through the wings of the second last, and Sharjah and Reel Steel, came down at the last when having the race between them, the market is still wide open.
The Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (13th March 2018) was first run in 1946, and is run over 8 hurdles and 2-miles 87-yards on Cheltenham’s Old Course. It is the Cheltenham Festival’s traditional first-day curtain-raiser.
Five 6-year-olds, four 5-year-olds and one 7-year-old have been successful
Winners have gone into the race rated between 139 and 155
Ruby Walsh has ridden 4 of the last 7 winners
Willie Mullins has trained 3 of the last 5 winners
Irish and English trained horses have each won 5 of the last 10 renewals
SP’s of the winners have ranged from 2/1 to 25/1
Only one favourite and one joint-favourite have been successful
Finished third in the Cheltenham Festival Bumper last season, and already looks a better hurdler after 2 wins from 2 starts over hurdles. The form of his runs is yet to be significantly boosted, but his slick hurdling technique looks tailor-made for the test that the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle usually provides. Trainer Nicky Henderson has trained 3 winners of the race, including Altior in 2016, whilst he also trained the third that year Buveur D’Air, who won last year’s Champion Hurdle.
Should have the raw-speed for this test having been rated in the 90’s on the flat, and was still going well when crashing through the wings of the second-last flight at Leopardstown. Price drifted because of that, but could easily have been half his current odds if he had landed favouritism there.
If The Cap Fits
Only defeat in 6 starts was in the Bumper at last season’s Grand National Meeting, and it’s worth noting that he had Claimantakinforgan one place behind him there. Especially impressive when winning at Kempton over Christmas, when he won by 5-lengths, despite conceding weight all-round.
French-bred who had 4 runs in France before being sent to be trained by Willie Mullins. Won his first two hurdle races in Ireland, and then looked sure to benefit from the fall of Mengli Khan until he himself fell at the last having cruised into the lead. Was much longer in the betting than stablemate Reel Steel though.
Bumper form ties in closely with Claimantakinforgan and If The Cap Fits, and returned to Cheltenham on his last start to win a novice hurdle when conceding 6lb to the useful runner-up. May need soft ground though to being his stamina into play.
Mengli Khan could easily be overpriced after running-out last time, but Cheltenham’s wide-open spaces may not be ideal for a horse with those tendencies. Meanwhile, Sharjah could be useful for Willie Mullins, and the Irish Trainer has had horse finish first or second in each of the last five renewals. Meanwhile, If The Cap Fits and Western Ryder are two useful recruits for the home-team. However, it’s Claimantakinforgan who I want to be with, as his jumping already looks slick enough to take him right to the top over hurdles, and he was third at the Festival last year.
2018 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle Tip: Claimantakinforgan @ 10/1 BetVictor