The Supreme Novice’s Hurdle (Tuesday 12 March) is one of the most eagerly awaited races of the whole national hunt season as it is the traditional curtain raiser on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival.
It is especially popular with punters due to the excellent bookmaker promotions that are usually associated with the race. This year, they include the race sponsor’s Sky Bet’s unbelievable offer to refund losing win-bets on up to £20 in cash (terms & conditions apply).
That’s why it’s got to be worth checking our stats, analysis and tip for the 2019 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.
Supreme Novices’ Hurdle 10-Year-Trends
The 2017 winner Labaik stands out like a sore thumb amongst the last 10 winners, as he was the only one to have run on the flat and to have run terribly on his last start. Indeed, he came into the race with form figures of R/R/6, so it was no surprise he was returned at 25/1, the highest-priced winner in the last decade.
Despite that, favourites don’t have a great record either with Douvan being the only outright favourite to win at 2/1, whilst Vautour was the only joint-favourite to win. The other seven winners were returned at odds of between 4/1 and 12/1.
The only 10 out of 10 statistic is that all 10 winners had run at least four times over hurdles, whilst eight winners had won last-time-out.
All winners have also been aged either five or six, with six being aged six and four being aged five. The last nine winners had also achieved a rating of at least 142.
Only five of the 10 winners had run previously at Cheltenham, with Altior winning a novice hurdle and Summerville Boy being placed in two novice hurdles. Al Ferof, Cinders And Ashes, and Champagne Fever had all finished top-5 in the Champion Bumper at the previous year’s festival.
English and Irish trainers have each provided five of the last 10 winners, with three-time winning trainer Willie Mullins the only trainer to have won it more than once in the last decade. Jockey Ruby Walsh rode all three of those winners and Al Ferof for Paul Nicholls.
Supreme Novices’ Hurdle 2019 Main Contenders
Impressed when carrying 11-8 to victory in the Betfair Hurdle and his rating of 152 is higher than eight of the last 10 winners coming into the race. However, no Betfair Hurdle winner has won the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, even though the likes of Kalashnikov, My Tent Or Yours, and Get Me Out Of Here have finished second. The stable of Nigel Twiston-Davies, who won the 1994 renewal with Arctic Kinsman, also saddled another Betfair Hurdle winner Ballyandy to finish fourth.
Didn’t show much as a three-year-old hurdler in France but has improved out of all recognition since joining Joseph O’Brien in Ireland. He annihilated a stablemate and a 147-rated Nicky Henderson-trained horse at Cheltenham last time and he could prove to be special if that form can be taken at face value. The main problem is he’s only a four-year-old and the last horse of that age to win this race was Hors La Loi III in 1999, and that horse proved good enough to win the 2002 Champion Hurdle.
Was made favourite after winning on hurdles-debut for trainer Nicky Henderson, who has won this race twice before in 1992 with Flow and 2016 with Altior. However, it’s asking a lot of him to win this race after just two runs over hurdles and one point-to-point, whilst it was disappointing that he was beaten by a 140-rated hurdler last time. Cheltenham may suit him better than Kempton did that day but he has something to prove.
Another representative from the Nicky Henderson stable but he’s also only had three runs over hurdles. At last his last two runs have been winning ones and the form of his win at Kempton two starts ago has been boosted by the runner-up Rouge Vif winning twice since.
Elixir De Nutz
Officially the top-rated horse on 153 and he’s also an excellent stats-fit having had four runs, winning the last three. The last of those wins also came in the Tolworth Hurdle, which was used as a prep race by last year’s winner Summerville Boy. The form of his wins has also been boosted by the placed horses and he looks to have a solid chance having won on ground ranging from soft to good.
Comes into the race more battle-hardened than most of his rivals having run six-times as a juvenile hurdler without winning, whilst he’s also won four of his seven starts this season. He was well-backed to win the Tolworth Hurdle two starts ago and, having been beaten by Elixir Du Nutz there, he gave that form a big boost when winning the Kingwell Hurdle last time, with decent hurdlers Sceaux Royal and Vision Des Flos back in second and third.
Represents the stable of Willie Mullins and he could easily prove better than his current rating of 148 after just two starts in Ireland, though he had run five times over hurdles in France prior to those. The Mullins-trained Vautour and Douvan are also the only two winners in the last 10 years to have run less than four times that season, so he can’t be excluded.
Supreme Novices’ Hurdle 2019 Summary
The poor record of favourites, Betfair Hurdle winners, and four-year-olds may make it wise to look beyond Al Dancer and Fakir D’oudairies, whilst Mr Fisher and Angels Breath aren’t as experienced as typical winners. The same can be said of Klassical Dream but, as he’s trained by Willie Mullins, that may not hinder his chances. However, Elixir De Nutz seems to have everything going for him and he has been the subject of glowing reports from the yard of Colin Tizzard.
Supreme Novices’ Hurdle 2019 Free Tip:
Elixir De Nutz @ 8.50 MoPlay (Bet £10, Get 2 x £15 Free Bets)