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EW (3 Places)
Supreme Novices Hurdle
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EW (4 Places)
Supreme Novices Hurdle
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Date of Tips: 20/02/2023
Disclaimer The odds for these selections were correct at the time of publishing (08:35 20/02/2023) but may have changed since. Please check the latest price before placing your bet.
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|Will Smith Tips||Steve Mullington
All eyes on Facile Vega here, in his bid to erase the memory of the Dublin Racing Festival blip. All eyes were on him there of course, and so much so, that the other horses in that Grade 1 have seemingly disappeared into the ether when it comes to punter’s minds.
That includes the impressive winner Il Etait Temps, who is maturing at a rapid rate right before our eyes. With the prospect of pretty testing ground for Day One, I’d just be slightly worried about Il Etait Temps being suited to that, given he can be a keen going sort.
The horse that chased home Il Etait Temps in that Leopardstown race 5 weeks ago was Inthepocket, who got up for 2nd ahead of Dark Raven, who also runs in the Supreme. On the face of it, making up 9½ lengths seems like a large gap to bridge for Inthepocket. But I believe there are a few reasons to believe he can do so, and is the recommended bet in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at 1.30, at 16/1 each-way with Betfred, Bet365, Coral or Ladbrokes for 4 places.
Chief among those reasons is the ground – Inthepocket looks to be a horse who relishes soft or heavy conditions, as he did when hosing up in a Wexford maiden hurdle. He then beat leading Albert Bartlett fancy Three Card Brag over 2m4f at Navan, in a race that panned out in a manner that really wouldn’t have suited Inthepocket, but testament to his ability he won.
Inthepocket lived up to his name in the Grade 1 at the Dublin Racing Festival, as Rachael Blackmore found herself locked away on the inside behind a fading Facile Vega, (not what anyone would have expected, it must be said,) and a looming Il Etait Temps on his outside.
Inthepocket had travelled and jumped really nicely up until that point, and despite having his momentum halted significantly, he rallied to get back up for 2nd. Granted a clear run, and a well run race on what will be soft ground, Inthepocket can run a massive race in the Festival opener at 16/1 each-way with Bet365, Coral, Ladbrokes for 4 places.
For many Festival attendees the Supreme Hurdle is the race of the meeting, simply because as soon as the tapes go up a crescendo of noise raises the roof and reverberates around National Hunt racing’s greatest amphitheatre.
Let’s check out which ante-post runners you’ll be roaring home in the Supreme this year:
Facile Vega (100/30) is still the favourite for the Festival’s opening contest despite now being three times the price he was before his Dublin Racing Festival defeat.
Before arriving at Leopardstown Willie Mullins’ six-year-old was unbeaten in six career starts – three of those at Grade 1 level, but he was soundly beaten by stable mate Il Etait Temps.
Whether that was just an “off day” we will just have to wait and see, but if the Facile Vega of old turns up on the 14th March, odds of 11/4 are going to look very nice.
Firmly in second place in the ante-post betting is the Barry Connell-trained Marine Nationale (4/1). The six-year-old won the Royal Bond earlier in the season and comes into this race unbeaten in four starts.
Jockey Michael O’Sullivan says Marine Nationale is in excellent form as he builds up for the Festival and great things are expected of O’Sullivan himself. It could be a match made in heaven.
Il Etait Temps (5/1) certainly shook up the market when downing Facile Vega at Leopardstown. A son of Jukebox Jury, Il Etait Temps carries the instantly recognisable silks of the Hollywood Syndicate and Barnane Stud.
This syndicate have been enjoying winners galore of late so I wouldn’t put it past them to be celebrating another one on the biggest stage of all.
Mullins holds a strong hand in this race and his Impaire Et Passe (7/1) has won both of his starts since moving over from France. Successful in a maiden hurdle at Naas in December, Impaire Et Passe followed up in the Moscow Flyer Novices’ Hurdle at Punchestown last month, showing fluency and speed over the bare two miles. He looks a very exciting prospect and will be a big player should he line up in this contest.
The five-year-old mare Luccia (10/1) is entered for this Grade 1 Hurdle, however be aware that Nicky Henderson has indicated that the Grade 2 contest on the third day of the Festival against her own sex will be the preferred option, so punters tread carefully!
Tahmuras looks best of the British contingent having won all three of his starts over hurdles this term. He looked a smart prospect when winning the Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown last month and had plenty to spare over the others.
Gaelic Warrior just missed out on the in the Boodles Juvenile Hurdle at the Festival last season, but has been a revelation this season, including winning a big-field handicap at Leopardstown. However Mullins sees him more of Ballymore type so watch your bets.
Those looking for a dark horse in the Supreme should cast their eye over Diverge (14/1), another Willie Mullins recruit, who registered a wide-margin victory at Punchestown in a 22-runner maiden hurdle.
Formerly trained by Freddy Head, this five-year-old son of Frankel was too green to cope with High Definition on his Irish debut, but the penny certainly dropped last time out.
French raiders and recruits have been landing the big Cheltenham prizes down the years and Diverge can give each-way players a good run for their money.
Diverge (E/W) 14/1 @ Unibet
|Supreme Novices’ Hurdle|
|Tues 14/03/2023||13:40||2m 1/2f||Hurdle|
The Supreme Novices’ Hurdle is a Grade 1 race that opens the Cheltenham Festival. It is a 2-mile hurdle race for novice hurdlers and has been held since 1946. Taking place on the Old Course at Cheltenham, the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle is one of the most prestigious hurdle races in the National Hunt calendar.
Over the years, the event has seen some great champions like Vautour, Altior and Douvan. In 2022 a new race record was set by Constitution Hill when ridden by Nico de Boinille, winning the race by 22 lengths in a record time of 3 minutes 44.43 seconds.
|Il Etait Temps||7/1|
|Impaire Et Passe||10/1|
The moment most of us National Hunt fans have been thinking about for the entire year will be finally upon us when they get the white flag raised in the Supreme, and for the first time all season – all the chat stops, and the results answer the questions. This year’s renewal looks a superb race as well – with plenty of chances to choose from between Dysart Dynamo, Constitution Hill, Jonbon and Kilcruit all in the firing line. Horses such as Mighty Potter and El Fabiolo may be interesting at bigger prices as well. I am going to be siding with Dysart Dynamo in the opener, and I will be hopeful that the form and visual impression he gave at Punchestown last time out can be backed up on this occasion. He can be a bit bullish at times and fresh, but if handling the track well – he will take a lot of beating. The price of 9/4 with Paddy Power seems fair.
Often the Festival curtain raiser can be a real source of value in the weeks and, most notably, days leading up the second Tuesday in March – as bookmakers are keen to entice punters in at the beginning of the week.
With that in mind, and with most of the trials for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle out of the way, it is a surprise that I am finding myself keen to suggest an ante-post bet for it right now.
But, Gordon Elliott’s Abacadabras makes a fair chunk of appeal at 6/1 with William Hill right now – I see him being a bit shorter come the day certainly. He was a general 7/2 shot after winning the Grade 1 Future Champions Novices’ Hurdle at Leopardstown at Christmas. Due to the emergence of one or two likely types, namely Shishkin, Asterion Forlonge and Fiddlerontheroof – Abacadabras has been eased slightly.
A very high-quality bumper horse, when on two separate occasions he was the only rival who possessed the pace to go with Envoi Allen at Leopardstown in February last year, and in the Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival.
On both occasions, he paid for that effort. Firstly being forced to run out over the rail at Leopardstown, as he was closing back up on Envoi Allen’s heels, and with horses on his outside, he had nowhere to go. Then at Cheltenham, he was a bit keen and fresh in a slowly run affair, and paid for it late on by fading into fourth.
Every hurdle start he has had to date has only added to the notion that a well-run race over the minimum trip will see him to best effect – the only time he got anything like that, he was a cracking second, again to Envoi Allen, in the Royal Bond Novices’ Hurdle at Fairyhouse.
Indeed, Envoi Allen is the only horse to beat Abacadabras over hurdles thus far, and Gordon Elliott’s Cheveley Park-owned superstar is Ballymore-bound. With him out of the way, Abacadabras looks a magic bet at 6/1.